A federal lawmaker from New Jersey wants more answers as to why many of his residents were left in the dark during the month of January.

Congressman Frank Pallone, D-N.J. 6th District, sent a letter Friday to the president of Jersey Central Power & Light, demanding that the utility offer detailed explanations about outages that affected his district on Jan. 17, 21 and 26.

"This is beyond an inconvenience," the letter reads. "New Jersey is experiencing one of its coldest winters in recent memory. Outages in your service territory have put families at risk of hypothermia, leaving mayors to scramble to set up emergency warming shelters to protect residents from the potentially deadly low temperatures."

Outages on Jan. 17 may have been the result of adverse weather, the letter says, but the subsequent outages occurred on nights with clear and calm weather. According to public statements by JCP&L, the letter says, the outages were caused by substation equipment failures.

"The evidence points to insufficient investment by JCP&L in the electric distribution infrastructure that serves the residents of Monmouth and Middlesex Counties," the letter reads.

In the letter, Pallone asks JCP&L President James Fakult to provide answers to the following questions by Feb. 11.

  • How many outages occurred in JCP&L's service territory in Monmouth and Middlesex counties during January 2022? Where did they occur, how long did they last, and how many customers were impacted?
  • What was the cause of each of these outages?
  • What is JCP&L's plan for repairing, replacing or upgrading, as appropriate, the substations and related equipment that contributed to these outages?

"While I am grateful to the JCP&L employees who worked diligently to restore power during these outages, JCP&L's leadership and management must plan adequately to always ensure reliable and resilient power to all ratepayers throughout its service territory," Pallone says in the letter.

When contacted by New Jersey 101.5 for a response, JCP&L spokesman Chris Hoenig said:

"JCP&L is committed to ensuring safe, reliable electric service for our 1.1 million customers in New Jersey. We have received and are currently reviewing Congressman Pallone's letter, and our leadership remains open to a dialogue to address any concerns our elected officials bring forward."

Contact reporter Dino Flammia at dino.flammia@townsquaremedia.com.

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