Jul 29, 2014

JCP&L Leaving Customers in the Dark, Residents Say

Utility company refuses to commit to a power restoration schedule. Officials create petition asking the Board of Public Utilities to rescind the JCP&L's license to sell power in Wayne.

JCP&L Leaving Customers in the Dark, Residents Say JCP&L Leaving Customers in the Dark, Residents Say JCP&L Leaving Customers in the Dark, Residents Say

It is 46 degrees in Fred Ritsema’s house. Ritsema and his family have been without power for more than a week.

Ritsema and his family are Jersey Central Power & Light (JCP&L) customers. Residents have been asking the power utility for some kind, any kind, of estimate as to when they might have their power restored.

“I haven’t seen anybody working in my neighborhood,” Ritsema said. “When I called yesterday they told me I’d have it back by Wednesday. Well that didn’t happen obviously.”

Ritsema is one of thousands of Wayne residents who have been literally left in the dark when it comes to having their power restored to their homes.

JCP&L services approximately 15 percent of Wayne residents. According to information on the company’s website, 1,025 JCP&L customers did not have power Wednesday night. Now the company estimates “the majority of customers are expected to be restored by 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 11,” according to a notice on the JCP&L website.

JCP&L previously told residents their power would be restored by Wednesday. However, power wasn’t restored to anyone Tuesday or Wednesday.

Several residents have said they haven’t seen a JCP&L service vehicle in town for days, if at all, since Superstorm Sandy.

Donna Saitta lives on Fieldstone Place. She lost power Oct. 29. She also lost power for days when Tropical Storm Irene hit and during the snowstorm last October.

“I don’t know who is to blame, but I feel like this has became our reality. Every time something major happens weather wise we’re going to lose power. It’s appalling.”

Residents said they have tried and failed to get answers from JCP&L customer service representatives.

“No one has the answers,” Saitta said. “There’s no one you can talk to who is going to tell you anything.”

Mayor Chris Vergano drove to the company’s headquarters in Morristown to try and get some answers.

Vergano met with Vice President of External Affairs Mark Jones Tuesday to get some definitive answers regarding when power might be restored to Wayne.

Jones said the company "would continue to work in Wayne throughout the week until everybody is back up and running.

"We have made some progress in Wayne. We have approximately 10,000 people out there working, trying to restore power as quickly and safely as they can," Jones said when reached by phone on Wednesday. "There is still significant damage all over the state."

“They were unwilling to commit to any schedule of when they will have Wayne repaired,” Vergano said. “Meanwhile, it is unacceptable that this is the answer we are getting after our residents have slept in the cold for days."

Temperatures dropped into the low 30s and upper 20s Wednesday evening during the nor'easter that worked its way up the East Coast.

Evelyn Lequerita said it was warmer outside than in her house on Horizon Drive.

"It's like an ice box," Lequerita said. "At first they told us by Wednesday. Now they tell us maybe by Sunday we'll have power back. You can't even believe what they tell you."

Jones sympathized with the customers.

"We understand people's frustrations," he said. "It's cold outside and we're doing everything we can."

Officials want residents to sign a petition asking the state Board of Public Utilities, Gov. Chris Christie, and the state Legislature to rescind JCP&L’s franchise to sell energy to Wayne residents.

Nearly 60 people signed the petition as of 9 p.m. Wednesday.

— Have a question or news tip? Contact editor Daniel Hubbard at Daniel.Hubbard@patch.com or find us on Facebook and Twitter. For news straight to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.

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