A Need to Improve

After Tropical Storm Irene hit New Jersey in August 2011, thousands of residents in the area were left without power for an extended period of time. This was followed by an early blizzard in October, which led to further extended power outages. These inadequacies led to Governor Chris Christie calling for a review of the procedures followed by the area’s utility companies. The findings of the report, released in early September from the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (BPU), raised concerns that area utility companies need to address some issues before the next big storm. The areas that need improvement, according to an article published by http://em.gmnews.com, were:

Pre-Storm

Preventative maintenance in the area of responsibility for each respective power company, including cutting back trees and updating equipment. These measures provide a degree of readiness that can keep a storm from getting out of hand.

Communication was also deemed a crucial area needing improvement, especially when communicating with their customer base. This includes keeping customers up to date on the latest expectations, including when a storm is expected to hit and the latest news on the severity and conditions expected from any incoming storms.

Post-Storm

Communication after a storm is also important, especially pertaining to when power is expected to be restored. Utility companies are encouraged to use social media as a point of contact with their customers, as most have access to such resources through smartphones, even if their electricity is out.

Responding in a timely manner was also an area of concern. In the new age of disaster preparedness, not being prepared for a crisis is no excuse. Organizations are expected to have some sort of contingency plan in place, and those procedures are expected to be reviewed on an annual basis.

Conclusion

There is no way that all conceivable disasters can be foreseen. Sometimes a crisis happens that we don’t expect. That is why preparing for the worst-case scenario helps prepare both utility companies and those they serve for any disaster thrown their way. Preparedness won’t stop a disaster from happening, but it will make recovery a whole lot easier.

For more information about how natural disasters have affected utility companies, visit: http://em.gmnews.com/news/2012-09-26/Front_Page/Shining_a_light_on_power_companies.html