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Local Officials Not Convinced of PSE&G's Ambitious Restoration Expectations

"While we would love to believe PSE&G's new ambitious time line, nothing they've done this week gives us confidence that it will be true," a frustrated Mayor Paul Aronsohn said after hearing the new target.

Power is estimated to return in Ridgewood by Saturday night and Glen Rock before Tuesday, according to new PSE&G work plans released by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie Saturday afternoon.

But municipal officials, frustrated to no end with PSE&G this week, aren't yet buying it.

The work plans – which show timetables as to when power may return for customers of New Jersey's three largest power companies – states that PSE&G expects customers in Ridgewood to have power restored by midnight Saturday. Glen Rock should see the juice return a few days later, according to the released work plans.

Greg Reinert, a spokesman for the state Board of Public Utilities, explained how to interpret the data on the charts for PSEG, JCP&L and ACE, a smaller utility serving the Atlantic City area. Barring an extraordinary development, the charts will be updated once a day, Reinert also said. 

The PSEG chart contains a column listing “ETR,” which stands for “estimated time of restoration.” The chart also uses military time -- 23:59 -- which translates to 11:59 pm. “Assigned” means that “they’re finished doing their appraisals to find out what’s going on in the town and have assigned crews to the jobs,” Reinert said. 

If there is an “x” next to the line for your community, that means the utility expects to get 100 percent of customers restored in that community by 11:59 pm of that date. Reinert stressed, however, that this is a projection and may be subject to change due to unforeseen circumstances. 

If there is no “x” on the line next to your community, this means that there is not yet a projected date for 100 percent restoration in that community, although crews may be working in that town restoring electricity to at least some customers.

Aronsohn: 'Would I like to believe it? Yes. Do I believe it? No!'

Officials in both towns are warning residents not to get their hopes up.

Roughly half are still without power in the village of more than 25,000. Village officials have reached a boiling point.

"While we would love to believe PSE&G's new ambitious timeline, nothing they've done this week gives us confidence that it will be true," a frustrated Mayor Paul Aronsohn said after hearing the new timeline. 

"We've reached our limit for patience with PSE&G," the mayor continued. "PSE&G's slow, often confused response to our repeated requests has been outrageously bad and completely inexcusable. We're finally seeing PSE&G work being done today, but only after [OEM Coordinator] Jeremy [Kleiman] and I have been beating the drums louder and louder and only after a series of false promises by PSE&G."

Kleiman told Patch Saturday afternoon that he was only aware of two PSE&G crews in town and was cautiously optimistic the lights would turn back on before the clock struck 12.

In Glen Rock, where roughly 3,200 out of 4,650 customers are without power, lights are likely to come back by midnight on Monday, according to the PSE&G work plan.

Both the village and borough were identified by PSE&G earlier as two of 14 "priority" towns.

Joanne Perry, the borough's OEM coordinator, said she did not want residents "getting excited and then very disappointed when it doesn't happen. We have many wires down on streets along with snapped poles where ones will have to be dug, and it normally takes a few days to make that happen."

Many streets in Ridgewood's West Side have had power restored in the last day, residents have told Patch. Much of the East Side of Ridgewood is still dark, however.

PSE&G workers were in Glen Rock on Saturday working with the borough's DPW to kill live wires so tree clearing can begin and line repairs can start, Perry said.

Christie: 'We need transparency, certainty, accountability' from utilities

The governor's office said the document release – which he requested, and also includes restoration expectations from JCP&L and ACE – was designed create "greater certainty, transparency, and accountability" for New Jersey residents.

"While progress has been made in restoring power to many businesses, households, and critical infrastructure in the house aftermath of Sandy, there are still over 1.25 million customers without power," Christie said.

What the governor stated was right on point, according to Aronsohn.

"Transparency, certainty and accountability have been sorely missing from PSEG this week," the mayor told Patch.

Of 333,690 PSE&G customers in Bergen County, 215,770 lost electricity, according to the company. As of Saturday morning, the utility reported 142,100 remained without service in the county. 

"Also in the last 24 hours we energized all of our switching stations and restored 16 substations. While energizing switching and substations does not automatically turn the lights on, it is a major step forward and allows to focus on our distribution systems that are closer to the customer," the statement said.

More than 2,000 outside workers were called to help PSE&G and another 600 were expected to arrive, according to PSE&G. In a press conference Thursday, Gov. Chris Christie said he told utility companies to step up repairs and issue new restoration timelines to residents. 

Paul Milo and Noah Cohen contributed reporting to this article.

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

Gordon Henry November 05, 2012 at 02:07 AM
Lots of crews working on Chestnut / Oak / Walnut in Ridgewood today. Still no power, however.
Mark Ruckhaus November 05, 2012 at 02:16 AM
Mean-spirited? We have people who will get angry and cry when a tree is cut down. But some of those trees exacerbated this power outage. After all, trees planted more judiciously will likely do less damage than those planted under a power line and next to a sidewalk. And people who are bean counters--those who are willing to take the occasional big loss such as this rather than attempt to do the admittedly very costly but, over the long haul, correct thing and put the power lines under the ground because the occasional big loss is cheaper than doing it right--I think those people should be disposed of. As to how many of my neighbors are useless members of society who think more of themselves and what's in it for them rather than the greater good, I'd venture to guess that there probably are more than a few.
KenC November 05, 2012 at 02:19 AM
Mark, the other part of your sentence was "... who should probably be disposed of." Yes, mean-spirited.
Mark Ruckhaus November 05, 2012 at 07:01 PM
Ken, There are people who think only of themselves and their causes and let others be damned. I'd love to hear from a so-called "tree huggers" and find out what they think of their precious trees planted under power lines and next to sidewalks--the ones that fell over and took down power lines. I'd love to hear from the "can kickers" who thought that, if this tree thing would be a problem, it would be after they were either very old or very dead and so they, too, couldn't be concerned. I'd love to hear from the PSE&G actuaries who determined that it's cheaper to take a hit on what's slowly turning into the annual weekly power outage rather than putting the power lines under the ground and possibly avoiding this. And, honestly no disrespect to Mayor John Van Keuren, because I think he's done a fine job as Glen Rock mayor and has done a fine job of keeping the residents up to date as to what's going on, but one of his comments on one of his phone messages reeked of management mentality. What I mean is this: Management will use buzzwords galore, such as "cutting edge" and "proactive." But, when the proverbial shit hits the fan, those management people are busy wringing their hands and wondering what they could have done differently so as to prevent or mitigate this disaster. And John said, essentially, that, at the upcoming council meeting on Wednesday, he was going to start with the hand wringing and "what could we have done differently" stuff. MORE TO COME...
Mark Ruckhaus November 05, 2012 at 07:01 PM
PART DEUX... And, you know what? I have no use for all of the above. I spent a lot of time in the so-called "trenches" doing troubleshooting and fixing stuff (at CBS--and, yes, it's only TV) while I was busy dealing with the TV version of tree huggers (people protecting their own little empires), can kickers, actuaries and hand-wringing management. None of them are worth a damn and all deserve to drown in the shallow end of the gene pool.

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