Assemblyman Wayne DeAngelo (D-14) serves as Vice Chair of the Assembly Telecommunications and Utilities Committee. He tells NJ Managing Editor Michael Schneider that Hurricane Sandy highlighted an acute lack of information by the utility companies and that a bipartisan commission will review just what happened.
“It’s going to be chaired by an individual from the Board of Public Utilities to kind of just sit down and let’s talk about what happened. We’ve had a couple of storms, the past two years, detrimental to the state of New Jersey and for the electricity,” said DeAngelo.
Some of the things that will be under review, said DeAngelo, will include the possibility of building underground utilities and tree trimming programs for some communities.
One of the issues that DeAngelo observed from Sandy related to the temporary workers brought in for the storm.
“You can’t have a workforce just in the area ready to go. I appreciate the assistance that came from out-of-state utilities to help out, but a lot of times, they don’t want to work hot work and hot work is working on live wires, a lot of these out of states don’t do that.”
As an electrician and IBEW member, DeAngelo is no stranger to the inner workings of utility operations.
“I’ve worked at power houses, I’ve worked in substations, I’ve worked in switching yards, I’ve put in residential services. I understand how the system works and the problems that can be incurred. I understand that maintenance is probably one of the biggest things we need to consider, and the financial investment into undergrounded utilities.
Some utilities operating in the state are neither locally nor state-owned. And that makes a difference, says DeAngelo.
“I know the shareholders sometimes pull the strings on the larger corporations and they have to be beholden to the shareholders. I want to make sure that utilities are beholden to the residents of New Jersey and not to the shareholders.”