Freeholders Want Ocean County Resident on State Utilities Board
Vicari still angry of JCP&L's response to Hurricane Irene
Republicans and Democrats disagree on whether Ocean County would be better served by its utility companies if someone who lives in the county was appointed to the state Board of Public Utilities.
“There’s no point to doing this. It’s political,’’ said Democrat Michele Rosen, who is running for a seat on the freeholder board.
The Republicans who are freeholders voted unanimously, again, to ask the governor to name a county resident to the board that regulates utilities. Similar resolutions passed over the last eight years have produced no results.
Rosen said there is no vacancy on the BPU and the freeholders are free to attend any of that agency’s meetings and make their pleas for action.
Freeholder Director Joseph H. Vicari pointed to the massive improvements to Garden State Parkway interchanges in Ocean County while Joseph Buckelew of Lakewood was chairman of the New Jersey Highway Authority as proof of the value of having a county resident serving at a state agency.
The resolution solution sprang to life again in the wake of Hurricane Irene and what the freeholders call the lack of response to electric customers left without power by Jersey Central Power and Light Company.
Vicari continued to put the heat on the utility company Wednesday, saying he has been 21 days without contact from JCP&L’s CEO.
Jackson Township Engineer Daniel Burke needed no prodding to blast JCP&L, claiming the utility is blocking efforts to put up 750 solar street lights among the thousands in that community.
He said a $464,500 federal grant may be lost because Jackson officials and those from JCP&L cannot agree on the cost of installing the lights. The impasse has gone on for 23 months.
Burke said they can be purchased and installed for $650 each. JCP&L wants between $2,000 and $3,000 and insists their workers install them, he said.
“JCP&L has stonewalled us,’’ he charged. “JCP&L worked diligently to run out the clock,’’ so the grant would be withdrawn. Burke said replacing conventional lights with those he has been advocating would save Jackson taxpayers about $100,000 a year on their energy bill.
He asked the freeholders to support Jackson’s effort.
“Put it in writing. We’ll support you,’’ said Vicari.
William Gumper of Holiday City at Berkeley was pessimistic about the outcome.
“We can’t even get the street lights fixed around here,’’ he said.