WNYC's Bob Hennelly is an award-winning investigative journalist. While at WNYC he has reported on a wide gamut of major public policy questions ranging from immigration and homeland security to power outages and utility mergers.
Jersey Central Power and Light logged the most consumer complaints of the state's power companies in the aftermath of Sandy, according to statistics complied by New Jersey's Board of Public Utilities.
The BPU released the figures just as the Ohio-based utility is applying for a 1.4 percent rate hike to cover the cost of restoring power after Irene and the freak Halloween snow storm in 2011. Both weather events prompted wide spread outages.
More than 3,200 customers called the BPU hotline to lodge a wide range of complaints against JCP&L. More than 90 percent of JCP&L's 1.2 million customers lost power during Sandy. The utility’s service area includes the state's hardest hit coastal communities and inland rural towns, which suffered a huge number of downed trees.
As a comparison, the BPU hotline received 719 complaints about Public Service Electric and Gas Company, which is based in Newark and is the state's largest utility. During Sandy, 1.7 million or 77 percent of PSE&G's 2.2 million customers lost power.
The BPU calls were all logged from November 1-14. State regulators use the complaints to assess the utilities' performance. The BPU computer system for consumer complaints failed during the Sandy power outage crisis, requiring operators to document each complaint manually.
The New Jersey Senate's Budget and Appropriations Committee will hear from top utility officials Wednesday about their post-Sandy response and proposals to make the state's power grid more reliable during major storm events.