N.J. to Investigate Utilities' Response to Power-Cutting Storms

(Bloomberg) -- New Jersey regulators will investigate how utility companies responded to back-to-back storms that cut power to hundreds of thousands of customers.

“We are going to examine what went wrong and whether the plans for protecting and strengthening our grid devised post-Sandy have been followed,” Governor Phil Murphy, a Democrat who took office on Jan. 16, said in a news release. The state Board of Public Utilities will review whether preparedness measures were taken as the first storm bore down on March 2.

Thousands of customers who lost electricity in that nor’easter, with high wind gusts that downed trees and utility poles, hadn’t had power restored when a second storm struck on March 7. As of about 2:30 p.m. today, about 244,000 customers had no service, down from about 350,000 at the storm’s height, according to Murphy’s office.

New Jersey utilities, including Jersey Central Power & Light, Public Service Electric & Gas and Rockland Electric companies, received millions of dollars in federal grants to strengthen their infrastructure after Hurricane Sandy, the state’s costliest natural disaster, struck in October 2012.

Montville, New Jersey -- about 32 miles (52 kilometers) northwest of Manhattan -- got 26.8 inches of snow, the National Weather Service said. About 3 inches (7.6 centimeters) fell in Manhattan’s Central Park, where as much as 10 inches had been predicted. Parts of Orange and Rockland counties in New York got 26 inches.

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