Bill Text: NJ S1300 | 2020-2021 | Regular Session | Introduced


Bill Title: Requires certain electric public utilities to file emergency response plan with BPU.

Spectrum: Partisan Bill (Democrat 1-0)

Status: (Introduced) 2020-02-10 - Introduced in the Senate, Referred to Senate Economic Growth Committee [S1300 Detail]

Download: New_Jersey-2020-S1300-Introduced.html

SENATE, No. 1300

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

219th LEGISLATURE

 

INTRODUCED FEBRUARY 10, 2020

 


 

Sponsored by:

Senator  SHIRLEY K. TURNER

District 15 (Hunterdon and Mercer)

 

 

 

 

SYNOPSIS

     Requires certain electric public utilities to file emergency response plan with BPU.

 

CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT

     As introduced.

 


An Act requiring investor-owned electric public utilities to file an emergency response plan with the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities and supplementing Title 48 of the Revised Statutes.

 

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

 

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

     "Board" means the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities or any successor agency;

     "Electric public utility" or "utility" means a public utility, as that term is defined in R.S.48:2-13, that transmits and distributes electricity to end users within this State.

 

     2.    a. The board shall establish standards of acceptable performance for emergency preparation and restoration of service for investor-owned electric public utilities doing business in the State.  These standards shall replicate national best practices for service restoration, subject to adjustment as appropriate to accommodate any factors unique to the State.

     b.    The board shall open a full investigation of any alleged failure of an investor-owned electric public utility to meet the standards established pursuant to subsection a. of this section, upon its own initiative, upon petition of the Governor, or by the board of chosen freeholders of an affected county, or by petition from an affected municipality.  The investigation shall seek to determine whether an investor-owned electric public utility has committed a violation of the board's standards of acceptable performance; provided, however, that the petition to open an investigation shall be filed with the board not more than 90 days after the violation has been remedied.

     c.     The board shall impose a penalty not to exceed $10,000 for each violation for each day that the violation of the board's standards persists; provided, however, that the maximum penalty shall not exceed $1,000,000 for any related series of violations.

 

     3.    a.  Each investor-owned electric public utility conducting business in the State shall annually, on or before May 15, submit to the board an emergency response plan for review and approval.  The emergency response plan shall be designed for the reasonably prompt restoration of service in the event of a widespread outage in the service area of the utility due to storms or other causes beyond the control of the utility, and the provisions of the plan shall reflect the standards established pursuant to subsection a. of section 2 of this act.  The emergency response plan shall include but not be limited to the following:

     (1) The identification of management staff responsible for utility operations during an emergency;

     (2) An explanation of the utility's system for communicating with customers during an emergency that extends beyond normal business hours and business conditions;

     (3) A history, for the year ending April 30, of contacts with customers that document a need of essential electricity for medical reasons;

     (4) Designation of utility staff to communicate with local officials and relevant regulatory agencies;

     (5) Provisions regarding how the utility will assure the safety of its employees and contractors;

     (6) Procedures for deploying utility and mutual aid crews to work assignment areas; and

     (7) Identification of supplies and equipment reasonably anticipated by the utility to be needed during an emergency and the means of obtaining additional supplies and equipment.

     b.    After review of an investor-owned electric public utility's emergency response plan, the board may request that the utility amend the plan.  If the board finds a material deficiency in the plan, the board may order the utility to make such modifications as it deems reasonably necessary to remedy the deficiency.

     c.     Any investor-owned electric public utility failing to file its emergency response plan by May 15, may be fined $1,000 per day until an emergency response plan is filed.

     d.    The board shall also have the authority to open an investigation to review the performance of any investor-owned electric public utility in restoring service during a widespread outage in the utility's service area.  If, after evidentiary hearings or other investigatory proceedings, the board finds that, as a result of the failure of the utility to implement its emergency response plan, the length of the outages were materially longer than they would have been but for the utility's failure, the board may impose a fine commensurate with the length and severity of the damage caused by that failure.

 

     4.    Any fines imposed under this act shall be deposited into a non-lapsing account to be administered by the board.  The account shall be used to award grants to municipalities affected by major service outages for the purpose of maintaining public rights of way located near public utility service infrastructure.  Qualified maintenance activities include tree trimming and removing hazards that could lead to future outages.

 

     5.    The board shall promulgate any rules and regulations pursuant to the "Administrative Procedure Act" P.L.1968, c.410 (C.52:14B-1 et seq.) necessary to effectuate the provisions of this act.

     6.    This act shall take effect 12 months following enactment.

 

 

STATEMENT

 

     This bill requires the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities ("board") to establish a set of standards for emergency preparation and restoration of service after an outage that every investor-owned electric public utility ("utility") in the State must follow.  The standards are intended to serve as a minimum set of best practices that every utility in the State should follow with regard to power outages.  The bill establishes that a utility which fails to meet these standards shall be fined $10,000 per violation, per day.  The total amount of the fine is limited to $1 million for a series of related events.  The board can investigate a violation on its own initiative or upon request from the Governor, from county freeholders affected by an outage, or from a municipality affected by an outage.

     The bill also requires every utility to file an emergency response plan with the board.  This plan would serve as an official plan of action for each utility in the event of a major power outage and must include: the identification of management staff responsible for utility operations during an emergency; an explanation of the utility's system of communication with customers during an emergency that extends beyond normal business hours and business conditions; a history of contacts with customers that document a need of essential electricity for medical reasons; designation of utility staff to communicate with local officials and relevant regulatory agencies; provisions regarding how the utility will assure the safety of its employees and contractors; procedures for deploying utility and mutual aid crews to work assignment areas; and identification of supplies and equipment anticipated to be needed by the utility during an emergency and the means of obtaining additional supplies and equipment.

     If a utility fails to file an emergency response plan, the board can fine the utility $1,000 per day until a plan is filed.  If the board investigates a utility after an outage and finds that the utility failed to follow its emergency response plan, the board is directed to impose a fine that reflects the severity of the damage caused by failing to follow the plan.

     Any fines imposed by the board under this bill are to be placed in a non-lapsing account administered by the board.  Monies in the account are to be distributed as grant funds to municipalities affected by power outages for maintenance costs along rights of way near utility infrastructure, such as tree trimming near power lines or removing hazards that could potentially cause a future outage.

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