Gov. Chris Christie yesterday put an end to automated phone calls that angered JCP&L customers who heard a message that their power had been restored, even as they sat in darkness.
"JCP&L has committed to me to end the practice of automated restoration alert calls and to make these calls with live operators to ensure these types of problems are identified and met as quickly as possible," Christie said in a statement.
According to Christie spokesman Michael Drewniak, the governor brought up the issue of the phone calls with JCP&L president Don Lynch and pressed the matter for a resolution.
The governor’s dictate came after a week of mounting anger from residents who have been without electricity since the pre-Halloween snowstorm, which knocked out power for more than 620,000 residents at its peak. Drewniak could not say how many calls the governor’s office had received regarding the outages, but state and local officials, as well as The Star-Ledger, have been inundated throughout the week with reports from irate customers.
LBE phoned to JCP&L on Saturday, October 29 and reached only an automated system. The FiOS battery back-up for the fiber optics phone lasts only about six hours, which is worthless for a power outage of days. For such a phone system, one could NOT receive on a landline phone a false message of power restoration; the phone is dead if power is gone more than six hours. Further, as to LBE's phone, no phone message "that power had been restored" was ever received. The bigger issue isn't phone messages; it's lack of heat, and, for some, lack of water.
Tom Kean on JCP&L:
This isn’t the first time we’ve had problems with Jersey Central Power & Light. They are notorious, the worst power company in the state in terms of getting power restored after outages. Our governor gets mad at a lot of people, and rightly so, but he doesn’t seem to be mad at JCP&L. I don’t understand it.