With thousands still out of power, N.J. governor orders review of what went wrong

Gov. Phil Murphy gives an update on storm recovery efforts in New Jersey following two nor'easters. (Edwin J. Torres/Governor’s Office.)

Gov. Phil Murphy gives an update on storm recovery efforts in New Jersey following two nor'easters. (Edwin J. Torres/Governor’s Office.)

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy has directed the state Board of Public Utilities to investigate the power companies’ response to the recent winter storms that knocked out electricity to hundreds of thousands of customers.

“We’re going to examine what went wrong and whether the improvements to protect and strengthen our grid devised post-Sandy have been implemented,” Murphy said Thursday. “We will look to see if all preparedness measures were taken before last Friday knowing a major event was coming. My gut tells me they were not, and if they’ve not been, that is entirely inexcusable.”

Murphy said he’s frustrated and angered by uneven levels of preparation by the utility companies.

“In particular, I have to say JCP&L’s apparent lack of readiness remains a major issue that must be, and will be, looked into further,” he said. “They operate in some of the most wooded and rural parts of the state, and we learned from Sandy that a lot of trees won’t survive hurricane-force gusts.”

Utility companies will be held responsible if they didn’t follow procedures developed after Superstorm Sandy, said Joe Fiordaliso, Board of Public Utilities president.

He has ordered all New Jersey-based utilities’ crews to stay in the state until all customers affected by the storms have their power restored.

“It’s our in-state utilities that should get that help first. And once they are stabilized, those utilities can send them out to help other jurisdictions, but New Jersey has to be No. 1,” said Fiordaliso.

Some Republican lawmakers are urging the Murphy to mobilize the National Guard to help with recovery efforts in North Jersey where some residents have been without power for almost a week.

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