Sunday, November 11, 2012

Power crews full court press in Plainfield

Power came back on Oxford at 4:30 Sunday. This was the hardest hit street I have seen in Plainfield and in Union County for that matter - I drive to Elizabeth on various routes every weekday. There was some drama on Oxford.  When the power switch was flipped, one residents feeder line burst into flames.  The workers (from Pennsylvania)  handled it in stride.  One neighbor was cutting down a large tree on their front lawn, pro-actively preparing for the next storm.  It was a beautiful tree and I was sad to see it go.  But if you saw what happened on Oxford, you wouldn't want to criticize the homeowner.  What happened there was scary.  This is no longer a tree lined street.  Our city needs to find a way to do a massive tree planting program and Oxford should be at the top of the list.

Belivdere and Berkeley were powered up around 2 pm.  Thank you Florida utility crews.  Sleepy Hollow Lane was a hold out as was made clear by my friend Mary who had a lawn sign that indicated "13 days without power".  When I drove through at 7:30 they were finally back on the grid.  Thank you crews from Virginia and West Virginia.

Not all residents I spoke with knew for sure what their property insurance covers.  A few did not know about coverage for food spoilage or about payments for removal of downed trees on private property. 
You should read your policy and/or speak with the insurance adjuster about this and other policy features.  You pay a lot for that policy so make sure you get the full benefit.

There are still some residents without power but most people, at least in the second ward, have finally gotten back that which we take for granted. At least for a little while, we should think about the benefit of electricity, where it comes from and how precarious its supply can be.  

Power coming back (written Saturday, posted Sunday)

Checking on the worst disasters in the second ward on Saturday, I saw utility repair crews on Oxford (the worst street I've seen for damage), Sleepy Hollow Lane, Garden, Columbia and at the end of the day, in the dark, finally, on Belvidere Ave.  Power on Garden came back just as I got there and it was a relief to see people singing and shouting in front of their homes.  A similar scene took place on Columbia with Lennie Cathcart leading the choir. 

Residents had nothing but praise  for the crews who hail from Florida, Connecticut, Wisconson and more locations than I could keep track of.  The crew on Garden St.gave praise back, saying that Plainfield residents were welcoming, supportive and appreciative of their work.  This reinforces the view that Plainfield feels more like a small town than a city and is one of the reasons we Plainfielders are proud of our town..

The Garden St block leader advocated for the removal of the remaining street trees to prevent future danger and inconveniences.  There are still some towering oak trees growing on a narrow strip between the street and sidewalk.  This applies to so many trees in Plainfield that it is a very expensive idea to implement.  Especially as we would want to replace these trees with smaller ones on the Shade Tree Commission list, ones that won't disrupt power lines or heave up sidewalks.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Power outage update

We have around 6000 electric meters still disconnected (out of 18,000!). Our Public Works Director was told by PSE&G that most of them would be connected by the end of the weekend. That is appalling. It is clear that our utility company does not have enough resources on the ground in Plainfield.

We have 2 dozen city trees or private trees in the city right of way still entangled with power lines.  PSE&G crews must take the next step to fix power lines, poles and transformers.  Then Plainfield crews come in behind and clean up the trees and branches left behind.  If a tree on private property falls on a power line on private property, the property owner is responsible and most coordinate tree removal with the utility company.

It is optimistic to think PSE&G can keep to the timetable so we should be thinking mid next week instead. That is no consolation to people with no heat and a rather cold night coming.

I can say that every day, including today, I am hearing that homes and businesses are getting power back. East Front St. and Roosevelt came back this morning, Stilford Ave yesterday.

I do believe our DPW crews are doing a great job and are not the cause of delayed power restoration. Dept of Public Works crews are ready to come in after PSE&G to remove wood after PSE&G gets the power lines and poles fixed. They plowed the snow in a timely way from what I could see early this morning. They are making plans for tree stump removal and leaf pickup once everyone has power again. But there are still at least 16 streets blocked because of downed power lines! And 6000 homes and businesses without power.

I spoke with Assemblyman Jerry Green today about the legislative pressure being applied to the Board of Public Utilities. He is already on it.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

How Union County towns are faring

In this report, the first number is the November 5 count of housing units with outages, the second number  is from the day before and the third is the improvement.  In Plainfield's case there was an improvement although that wasn't true for some cities (like Cranford).  More important is that Plainfield (and Union) still has the most outages in Union County, even more than Elizabeth but similar to Union which is bigger.

Total Number's by County / City 11/5/12 080011/4/12 0900I


Cst OutagesLast Update

Cst OutagesBetter/(worse) than work plan




CLARK TWP936 1,028 92

CRANFORD TWP3,974 2,800 (1,174)

ELIZABETH CITY11,510 14,742 3,231

FANWOOD BORO845 1,706 861

GARWOOD BORO499 236 (262)

HILLSIDE TWP1,854 2,744 890

KENILWORTH BORO1,164 1,198 34

LINDEN CITY3,388 7,110 3,722

MOUNTAINSIDE BORO2,019 2,134 115

PLAINFIELD CITY 9,637  12,016  2,380

RAHWAY CITY3,295 3,930 636

ROSELLE BORO1,278 3,010 1,731

ROSELLE PARK BORO2,631 2,669 38

SCOTCH PLAINS TWP3,525 4,774 1,248


UNION TWP UNI9,757 10,088 331

WESTFIELD TOWN2,640 5,928 3,288

WINFIELD TWP588 609 21

Total 59,547 76,728 17,181

- I expect to soon post a report projecting a day by day restoration of power by number of housing units.  From what I can see, PSE& G expects most (around 8,000) units to get power by Friday, leaving over 1,000 units to suffer into the weekend.

BOUND BROOK BORO980 1,750 770


BRIDGEWATER TWP2,953 4,153 1,200

FRANKLIN TWP SOM3,484 4,982 1,498

GREEN BROOK TWP1,036 2,465 1,429

HILLSBOROUGH TWP2,276 3,640 1,364

MANVILLE BORO572 2,723 2,151


MONTGOMERY TWP877 1,261 384

NORTH PLAINFIELD BORO4,843 6,801 1,958

RARITAN BORO101 545 444



PSE & G Update

PSE&G Restoration Progress - Nov. 6, 2012

Outage update: PSE&G continues to make progress restoring customers. We currently have 272,700 customers without power. We have restored power to 84 percent of customers affected by the hurricane. We hope to have 90 percent of customers restored by tomorrow morning. We continue to monitor the developing storm moving toward New Jersey and are planning accordingly.

We have brought four additional substations back in operation in the last 24 hours. We have one substation left out of service (in Bayonne) and hope to have it back in service today. This will complete the most extensive substation restoration project in the company's history. We are extremely grateful to the more than 100 out-of-state substation experts who traveled here from around the nation to help with these efforts. We continue to work to restore distribution lines that were impacted by the storm surge.

PSE&G has secured an additional 600 line workers who are being redirected from Pennsylvania. There are now more than 4,600 workers on the ground helping restore power to our customers.

PSE&G is also extremely appreciative of the outpouring of support for our injured lineman who continues to make progress toward recovery. Crews from out-of-state passed the hat and collected several thousand dollars to support his family - this was a spontaneous and heartfelt action by people working 16 hours a day far from home. It has deeply touched our company.

Since the start of the storm, PSE&G call centers have handled more than 1.9 million calls (more than 12 times the normal volume). Non-emergency work is suspended so that more workers are available to respond to customer calls.

To contact PSE&G, call 1-800-436-PSEG (7734) or visit

Our detailed work plan is available at:

PSE&G Update

PSE&G Restoration Update - Nov. 5, 2012 9:30 p.m.

PSE&G continues to make progress restoring customers - about 80 percent of the 1.7 million customers affected by Hurricane Sandy have been restored. The number of outages is now 340,000.

We have now restored 98 percent of our customers in our Southern region that includes portions of Burlington, Mercer, Camden and Gloucester counties. As work is completed, crews in South Jersey will be reassigned to work in other parts of the state.

There are two substations that remain without power, both in Hudson County. We are working to have them energized tonight or early tomorrow. Restoring the substations is a critical step in allowing us to power the distribution systems that bring electricity to customers' homes.

At the request of the Governor, we have provided details on our work plan that are available on our website ( Note that the plan is a snapshot in time showing the estimated number of customers expected to be restored based on work currently assigned and will change based on emergent conditions and the need to reprioritize work.

Some current restoration statistics:

We have restored power to all refineries, and 84 percent of the gas stations in our service territory have power.

88 percent of schools in our service territory have power.

We are working with local officials to target restoration of power for polling stations where possible.

Mobile Customer Service Centers: To provide relief to communities hit particularly hard by this storm, PSE&G has established Mobile Customer Service Centers (CSCs). These locations are providing ice, drinking water, food and power strips for recharging devices free of charge to our customers. PSE&G representatives are staffing these centers to provide customers information about our efforts to restore power.

TownLocationHours of Ops

HobokenCVS Parking Lot 59 Washington Ave.8 a.m. - 6 p.m.

ParamusParamus Park Mall  8 a.m - 4 p.m.

Plainfield   518 Watchung Ave  8 a.m. - 4 p.m.

In addition to the mobile centers, PSE&G will begin a phased reopening of its regular Customer Service Centers around the state. On Tuesday, Bayonne, Camden, New Brunswick, North Hudson, Passaic, Paterson, Perth Amboy and West Orange will open. On Wednesday, Burlington, Elizabeth, Jersey City, Newark and Trenton will reopen.


We are reading media reports about people who have become ill or died from carbon monoxide poisoning or fires resulting from the use of generators in their homes. Anyone using portable electric generators must be sure to carefully read and follow the manual that came with the generator. Be sure your generator is UL-approved, installed by a licensed electrician and inspected by your local electrical inspector. There must be a way to physically disconnect your generator from utility lines. Generators should not be operated inside a dwelling or building. Customers who improperly install, operate or maintain a generator are risking their lives and the lives of their neighbors and utility workers.

Frequently asked questions from our customers:

Q. Why are my neighbors back and I'm not?

A. Homes very near to each other can be fed from different circuits. One of them may be damaged and not the other. It's also possible that one part of a circuit is damaged while other sections are not. Circuits from a station usually have two sections. If one section is damaged, we can open a breaker to stop the flow of electricity to that section while keeping the other section in service.

Q. I hardly ever lose power. Why am I out now?

A. These are conditions we haven't experienced in decades. Damage to switching stations, the backbone of the system, was extensive, and there were unusual amounts of damage to the transmission lines that bring power to the distribution system. If there is no power to their feeder station then their particular circuit will have no power. This storm also took an unusually high number of trees down, greatly increasing the number of customers affected and the amount of time it takes to bring power back.

Q. Why don't I see anyone working on this?

A. We have to fix the transmission and substation issues first, or no power will flow to the circuits that serve you. Much of the work that goes into getting your power back is done out of sight. We have unprecedented amounts of tree damage that caused many circuit faults. Once we have transmission and substations restored, we prioritize jobs that involve critical infrastructure (such as hospitals and police stations) and those that have the most number of customers affected. With damage this severe, it is taking time but we are working our way through that process.

Q. Why don't you know when my power will be back?

A. Under normal circumstances we know how long it takes to respond to reports of problems and restore service. This is not your average storm. Hurricane Sandy has caused twice the damage as Hurricane Irene. This means that even assessing the damage is time consuming, with new information constantly filling in the picture of the conditions that need to be addressed. We've also continued to bring additional out-of-state crews to help, and move them around to the areas they are needed most.