PHILLIPSBURG — New Jersey residents and lawmakers say JCP&L was too slow in restoring power after two recent nor'easters.

Now a panel of judges says the company was too slow in trying to sue this Warren County municipality.

Jersey Central Power & Light tried to recover the costs of replacing a utility pole damaged by a Phillipsburg Emergency Squad ambulance on Dec. 24, 2014.

The cost, including legal fees at the time, was nearly $15,300.

Normally, such damage is covered by a municipality's insurance. But citizens and businesses seeking to recover costs have to file a claim within 90 days.

JCP&L, however, mailed their claim 91 days later.

A Superior Court judge dismissed the lawsuit for being "untimely." JCP&L appealed, arguing that the clock should not have started at the time of the crash.

On Monday, they lost again.

"The tort claims notice had to be filed and served no later than March 24, 2015, which was a non-holiday weekday," the appellate decision says. "The mailing on March 25, 2015 was simply a day too late."

JCP&L and the state's other electric utilities are facing an investigation by the Board of Public Utilities into their response after the storm, which left hundreds of thousands without power — many for just a few days, but thousands for as long as 10 days. On Monday, several thousand JCP&L customers remained in the dark.

The investigation was requested by Gov. Phil Murphy, who said he was "mad as heck" about the delays in restoring power.

The BPU said Monday it would schedule five public hearings, including three in JCP&L's service areas in Sussex, Hunterdon and Morris counties, in the next few weeks.


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