TOMS RIVER – Two power outages in a short amount of time made officials want an investigation to see if the infrastructure has problems.
A damaged transformer on Route 37 caused an outage, and two days later, a fire at a substation on Silverton Road caused 6,000 customers to lose power between Toms River and Lakewood, Mayor Maurice “Mo” Hill said.
He noted that these were on hot days, and greatly impacted seniors who need electric medical devices.
“I find it hard to believe that these are isolated incidents,” he said of the fire and the damaged transformer. “I think there’s more than meets the eye. It’s not just bad luck and bad weather.”
He said during a recent Township Council meeting that the Board of Public Utilities should investigate whether there are underlying issues that caused the outages.
Councilman Kevin Geoghegan also noted that there was a house fire during one of these incidents. He couldn’t speculate whether the generator caused the fire but it bears being mentioned.
The family had gone out to breakfast because there was no power. If they had been home, they might have noticed the fire when it was small before it consumed the house, he said.
Councilman Daniel Rodrick said he asked the township attorney, Anthony Merlino, if it was legal to fine the power company if an outage exists past two hours. The attorney informed him that the township doesn’t have the ability to do that.
Resident Pat Klaslo said that if the governor wants everything to go to electric, the infrastructure has to be fixed first.
This is in reference to Governor Phil Murphy’s desire to have all cars sold in state to be electric by 2035.
Another resident, Robert Burns, asked people to imagine the drain on the system if everyone is charging their cars at the same time. He also noted that it is hard to claim that fully electric cars are green, since power plants require fuel.
He also suggested that Hill reach out to other towns who have been impacted, so that the town’s complaint would have more weight.
“Instead of one stinger, you have a whole hive of bees,” he said.
When asked for a comment about the outages, JCP&L spokesman Chris Hoenig said “JCP&L is committed to providing our customers with safe, reliable and affordable electricity. We regularly perform preventative maintenance and complete inspections on our equipment, identifying and mitigating issues before they cause outages. When outages do occur, our crews work to restore our customers as fast as safely possible, in all kinds of weather conditions. We appreciate the concerns raised by the town and will continue working closely with local officials.”