Outages in The Hills in Bedminster Reviewed

Aug 19, 2021

BEDMINSTER TWP. – Despite two significant storm-related outages in The Hills development last month, a utility representative told the Township Committee on Monday, Aug. 16, that upgrades have and will continue to be made.

The outages occurred on Tuesday, July 6, and Thursday, July 8. Both involved the Greater Crossroads Circuit and each affected about 644 Jersey Central Power and Light (JCP&L) customers in Bedminster, according to township officials.

In response, the committee invited Carol Bianchi, regional affairs director for JCP&L, to discuss efforts to reduce outages in The Hills.

Bianchi, a Basking Ridge resident and former Bernards Township mayor, began by providing more details.

The July 6 outage occurred during high winds and rain that caused a tree to fall on a primary wire and knock out power for about 225 minutes, she said.

The July 8 outage occurred during Tropical Storm Else which caused a lightning strike at Greater Crossroads and knocked out power for about 189 minutes, she said.

But Bianchi noted that so far this year, those are the only two outages from Greater Crossroads to have impacted more than 100 people. Last year, she said, the total was 14.

Greater Crossroads is one of five circuits that serve the township, along with the Somerset, Peapack, Chambers Brook and Dead River circuits.

Bianchi said JCP&L will focus on a circuit if it has “a bad year,” and the utility pursued upgrades to Peapack and Chambers Brook before turning its attention to Greater Crossroads where it “identified issues.”

The upgrades included the addition or replacement of equipment and supplemental tree trimming. Among the new equipment was the installation of a trip saver, which minimizes outages caused by a branch or animal temporarily coming in contact with the line.

The performance of Greater Crossroads is “actually very good this year,” Bianchi said. “I think we’re seeing that improvements are happening.”

Restoring power can take longer than people would like, she noted. She explained that JCP&L crews must first isolate a site and make it safe, repair high voltage lines and prioritize restoration to critical services.

But the utility also takes preventative measures, she said. They include circuit inspections in five-year cycles, infrared scans of circuits every four years, wood pole inspections every 10 years, and vegetation removal in four-year cycles.

Mayor Larry Jacobs saw improvement.

“We monitor complaints from our residents,” he said. The complaint level “seems to have abated and we attribute this to our relationship” with JCP&L.

He also praised Bianchi as being responsive.

Editor’s note: This article originally appeared in The Bernardsville News.

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