Bill Text: NJ A558 | 2016-2017 | Regular Session | Introduced


Bill Title: "Disaster Information Access Act"; requires utility service providers to report severe weather and emergency related service interruptions; directs utility service providers and State Office of Emergency Management to present reported information online and by telephone.

Spectrum: Moderate Partisan Bill (Democrat 15-1-1)

Status: (Introduced) 2016-01-27 - Introduced, Referred to Assembly Homeland Security and State Preparedness Committee [A558 Detail]

Download: New_Jersey-2016-A558-Introduced.html

ASSEMBLY, No. 558

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

217th LEGISLATURE

 

PRE-FILED FOR INTRODUCTION IN THE 2016 SESSION

 


 

Sponsored by:

Assemblywoman  NANCY J. PINKIN

District 18 (Middlesex)

Assemblyman  VINCENT MAZZEO

District 2 (Atlantic)

Assemblyman  RAJ MUKHERJI

District 33 (Hudson)

 

Co-Sponsored by:

Assemblymen Diegnan, Lagana, DeAngelo, Johnson, Coughlin, Eustace, McKeon, Gusciora, Wimberly, Egan, C.A.Brown, Assemblywomen Spencer and Mosquera

 

 

 

 

SYNOPSIS

     "Disaster Information Access Act"; requires utility service providers to report severe weather and emergency related service interruptions; directs utility service providers and State Office of Emergency Management to present reported information online and by telephone.

 

CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT

     Introduced Pending Technical Review by Legislative Counsel.

  


An Act requiring utility service providers to report severe weather and emergency related service interruptions and supplementing chapter 9 of Appendix A.

 

     Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:

 

     1.    This act shall be known and may be cited as the "Disaster Information Access Act."

 

     2.    As used in P.L.    c.    (C.        ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill):

     "Attorney General" means the Attorney General of the State of New Jersey, or the Attorney General's designee.

     "Interruption" means the cessation of electric, gas, or water utility service by one or more customers.

     "Governing body" means and includes the board of chosen freeholders of a county and the board or body in each municipality empowered by statute to exercise general legislative power therein.

     "Major catastrophic event" means a natural or humanly caused occurrence arising from conditions beyond the control of the utility, including, but not limited to, a terrorist attack, thunderstorm, tornado, hurricane, flood, heat wave, snowstorm or ice storm, or an earthquake, which results in:  (1) a sustained interruption of utility service to at least 10 percent of the customers in an operating area or 10 percent of the customers of a municipality or county located in an operating area; or (2) the declaration of a state of emergency or disaster by the State or by the federal government.

    "Mayor" means the mayor or chief executive of a municipality whether the official designation of the office be mayor, city manager, or otherwise, as appropriate to the form of government of the municipality.

     "Operating area" means a geographical subdivision of each utility's service territory, as determined pursuant to regulations promulgated pursuant to section 6 of P.L.    c.    (C.        ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill).

     "Regional utility commission" means the following:  (1) The Passaic Valley Sewerage Commissioners; (2) The North Jersey District Water Supply Commission; and (3) The Passaic Valley Water Commission.

     "State Office of Emergency Management," or "office" means the State Office of Emergency Management in the Division of State Police in the Department of Law and Public Safety.

     "Utility" means:  (1) any electric, gas, or water public utility that is investor-owned and is regulated under the jurisdiction of the Board of Public Utilities; (2) a regional utility commission; or (3) any other person or entity who owns or operates any plant, equipment, or property in connection with the provision of potable water service.  "Utility" shall not mean a county or municipality that has established water supply facilities pursuant to N.J.S.40A:31-1 et seq.; a municipality that has established a water district pursuant to R.S.40:62-96; a municipality providing light, heat, or power pursuant to R.S.40:62-12 et seq.; or a rural, electric cooperative that is not subject to the jurisdiction of the Board of Public Utilities pursuant to section 1 of P.L.1983, c.78 (C.48:2-13.1).

 

     3.    a.  Notwithstanding any law, rule, regulation, or order to the contrary, a utility shall, within 24 hours of a major catastrophic event, report information pertaining to service interruptions occurring in connection with the event within the utility's operating area to the State Office of Emergency Management and, upon request, to the mayor and governing body of each affected municipality and the governing body of each affected county.  The report shall include the following information: (1) the cause of the interruption; (2) the estimated time of resumption of service; and (3) any health and safety advisories, including boil water advisories. The utility shall, upon submission of the report to the office, relay the information contained in the report, and any other information the utility deems appropriate, through posting on its website, and by audio message on a 24-hour toll-free telephone service maintained by the utility.  Upon request thereafter, the utility shall provide to the mayor and governing body of each affected municipality and the governing body of each affected county a report of the same information as it pertains to that municipality or county.  The utility shall provide daily updates to the mayor and governing body of each affected municipality and the governing body of each affected county of any new information as it pertains to that municipality or county.

     b.    Within 24 hours after submission of the initial report pursuant to subsection a. of this section, a utility shall provide to the State Office of Emergency Management, a report which shall include information in connection with the utility's work to restore interrupted service, including plans for ongoing work in each affected municipality and county, and factors which may hinder or delay restoration of service.  The utility shall, upon submission of the report to the office, relay the information contained in the report, and any other information the utility deems appropriate, through posting on its website, and by audio message on a 24-hour toll-free telephone service maintained by the utility.  Upon request thereafter, the utility shall provide to the mayor and governing body of each affected municipality and the governing body of each affected county a report of the same information as it pertains to that municipality or county.  The utility shall provide daily updates to the mayor and governing body of each affected municipality and the governing body of each affected county of any new information as it pertains to that municipality or county.

     c.     The Department of Transportation, the New Jersey Turnpike Authority established under section 3 of P.L.1948, c.454 (C.27:23-3), the South Jersey Transportation Authority established under section 4 of P.L.1991, c.252 (C.27:25A-4), and any other State or local entity having jurisdiction over any road or highway shall report any known road or highway closure in connection with a major catastrophic event involving a State or federal declaration of a state of emergency or disaster to the State Office of Emergency Management.

     d.    The office shall, within 24 hours of receiving a report or update under this section post the information contained in that report or update, and any other information the office deems appropriate, on its website, and shall list such information by county and by municipality.  The office shall take appropriate steps to publicize the availability of the information posted pursuant to this subsection.

     e.     The office shall establish and maintain a 24-hour toll-free telephone service for the purpose of communicating by audio message, within 24 hours of receiving a report under this section, the information posted pursuant to subsection d. of this section.  The office shall take appropriate steps to publicize the telephone service established pursuant to this subsection.

     f.     The office shall be entitled to call to its assistance and avail itself of the services of the employees of any State, county, or municipal department, board, bureau, commission, or agency as it may require.

 

     4.    a.  Any utility which fails to report information in connection with a service interruption pursuant to the provisions of P.L.    , c.    (C.       ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill) shall be liable for a civil penalty of not more than $5,000 for each day that the violation continues.  Any fine imposed pursuant to this section shall be collected or enforced, with costs, in a summary proceeding instituted by the Attorney General according to the procedure provided by the "Penalty Enforcement Law of 1999," P.L.1999, c.274 (C.2A:58-10 et seq.).  The Superior Court and municipal court shall have jurisdiction to enforce the provisions of the "Penalty Enforcement Law of 1999," in connection with this section.

     b.    All civil penalties recovered pursuant to this section shall be paid into the General Fund.

     c.     Consistent with section 1 of P.L.1988, c.100 (C.48:2-21.14), any civil administrative penalty imposed under P.L.    , c.    (C.   ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill) upon investor owned public utilities regulated by the Board of Public Utilities shall not be recoverable from ratepayers.

     5.    Nothing in P.L.    , c.    (C.      ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill) shall limit the jurisdiction of the Board of Public Utilities over public utilities pursuant to R.S.48:2-1 et seq., notwithstanding the fact that a public utility may be a utility as defined in section 2 of P.L.    , c.    (C.       ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill).

 

     6.    The State Office of Emergency Management, in consultation with the Board of Public Utilities, shall adopt, pursuant to the "Administrative Procedure Act," P.L.1968, c.410 (C.52:14B-1 et seq.), rules and regulations necessary to effectuate the purposes of P.L.    , c.    (C.        ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill).

 

     7.    This act shall take effect on the first day of the fourth month following enactment, but the State Office of Emergency Management may take such anticipatory administrative action in advance thereof as shall be necessary for the implementation of this act.

 

 

STATEMENT

 

     This bill, the "Disaster Information Access Act," requires certain providers of electric, natural gas, and water service (provider) to report service interruptions that occur in connection with a major catastrophic event to the State Office of Emergency Management (office), mayors or other municipal chief executives, as appropriate, governing bodies of affected municipalities, and county freeholders of affected counties.  "Major catastrophic event" is defined in the bill to mean a natural or humanly caused occurrence arising from conditions beyond the control of the provider, including, but not limited to, a terrorist attack, thunderstorm, tornado, hurricane, flood, heat wave, snowstorm or ice storm, or an earthquake, which results in:  (1) a sustained interruption of service to at least 10 percent of the customers in an operating area or 10 percent of the customers of a municipality or county located in an operating area; or (2) the declaration of a state of emergency or disaster by the Governor or by the President.

     Under the bill, the provider is to, within 24 hours of a major catastrophic event, report information pertaining to service interruptions occurring in connection with the event within the provider's operating area to the office and, upon request, to the mayor (or chief executive, depending upon the form of government) and governing body of each affected municipality, and to the governing body of each affected county.  The report is to include the following information: (1) the cause of the interruption; (2) the estimated time of resumption of service; and (3) any health and safety advisories, including boil water advisories.  The provider is to, within 24 hours of a major catastrophic event, provide to the office, a report which is to include information in connection with the provider's work to restore interrupted service, including plans for ongoing work in each affected municipality, and factors which may hinder or delay restoration of service.

     Within 24 hours after submission of the initial report, a provider is to issue to the office, and upon request, to the mayor, and the governing body of each affected municipality and county, a report that includes information in connection with: (1) the provider's work to restore interrupted service, including plans for ongoing work in the affected municipalities or counties; and (2) factors which may hinder or delay restoration of service.

     In addition, the bill directs that, upon submission of each report, a provider shall relay the information contained in the report, and any other information the provider deems appropriate, through posting on its website, and by audio message on a 24-hour toll-free telephone service maintained by the provider.  A provider is also required to provide daily updates to the mayor and governing body of each affected municipality and county of any new information as it pertains to that municipality or county.

     The bill requires the New Jersey Department of Transportation, the New Jersey Turnpike Authority, the South Jersey Transportation Authority, and any other State or local entity having jurisdiction over any road or highway to report to the office any known road or highway closures resulting from a major catastrophic event involving a declaration of emergency.

     The bill directs the office to post on its website, and communicate on a telephone service line established by the office, within 24 hours of receipt, the information reported to the office pursuant to the bill.  The office is required to list the information by county and municipality and take appropriate steps to publicize the telephone service and availability of information on its website.

     Any provider who fails to report interruption related information pursuant to the bill would be liable for a civil penalty of not more than $5,000 for each day that the violation continues and, in the case of investor-owned electric, gas, and water public utilities, civil penalties shall not be recoverable from ratepayers.

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