Bill Text: NJ S719 | 2018-2019 | Regular Session | Introduced


Bill Title: "The Reliability, Preparedness, and Storm Response Act of 2018"; requires public utilities to file certain information concerning emergency preparedness with BPU and increases certain penalties.*

Spectrum: Bipartisan Bill

Status: (Introduced) 2018-04-05 - Reported from Senate Committee as a Substitute, 2nd Reading [S719 Detail]

Download: New_Jersey-2018-S719-Introduced.html

SENATE, No. 719

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

218th LEGISLATURE

 

PRE-FILED FOR INTRODUCTION IN THE 2018 SESSION

 


 

Sponsored by:

Senator  LINDA R. GREENSTEIN

District 14 (Mercer and Middlesex)

Senator  NILSA CRUZ-PEREZ

District 5 (Camden and Gloucester)

 

 

 

 

SYNOPSIS

     "The Reliability, Preparedness, and Storm Response Act"; requires public utilities to file certain information concerning emergency preparedness with BPU and increases certain penalties.

 

CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT

     Introduced Pending Technical Review by Legislative Counsel.

  


An Act requiring public utilities to file certain emergency preparedness information with the Board of Public Utilities, increasing certain penalties, and amending R.S.48:2-42, and supplementing Title 48 of the Revised Statutes.

 

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

 

     1.    (New Section)  This act shall be known and may be cited as "The Reliability, Preparedness, and Storm Response Act."

 

     2.    (New section)  Consistent with federal law, the board shall develop and enforce performance benchmarks for service reliability, service disruption preparedness, service restoration, and communications for electric public utilities conducting business in the State.  The board shall require, no less than annually, periodic reliability performance reporting by the electric public utilities.

 

     3.    (New section)  a.  The board shall require each public utility conducting business in the State to annually submit to the board, on or before May 15th of each year, a service reliability plan for the board's review and approval.  After review of a public utility's service reliability plan, the board may order the public utility to make such modifications as it deems reasonably necessary to remedy any deficiency.  The service reliability plan shall include, but not be limited to, the provision of safe and reliable service and the reasonably prompt restoration of service in the event of an outage in the service area of the public utility.

     b.    The board shall have the authority to open an investigation to review the performance of any public utility in restoring service during an 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 public utility to implement its service reliability plan, the duration of an outage was materially longer than it would have been but for the public utility's failure, the board may impose a civil administrative penalty pursuant to section 6 of P.L.    , c.    (C.      ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill).

     c.     The board shall undertake a detailed study of public utility service reliability.  Within eighteen months after the effective date of P.L.    , c.    (C.      ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill), the board shall prepare a report of its study and shall provide a copy thereof to the Governor and, pursuant to section 2 of P.L.1991, c.164 (C.52:14-19.1), to the Legislature.

     4.    (New section)  a.  The board shall require each public utility conducting business in the State to annually submit to the board, on or before May 15th of each year, an emergency communications strategic plan for review and approval.  This plan shall be reviewed in consultation with the State Office of Emergency Management in the Division of State Police in the Department of Law and Public Safety.  After review of a public utility's emergency communications strategic plan, the board may order the public utility to make such modifications as it deems reasonably necessary to remedy any deficiency.  The plan shall include, but not be limited to, providing an explanation of the public utility's system for communicating with customers during and after an emergency that extends beyond normal business hours and the designation of public utility staff to communicate with local officials and relevant regulatory agencies.

     b.    The board shall have the authority to open an investigation to review the communications of any public utility during an outage in the public utility's service area.  If, after evidentiary hearings or other investigatory proceedings, the board finds that, as a result of the failure of the public utility to implement its emergency communications strategic plan, the public utility's communications were materially less effective than they would have been but for the public utility's failure, the board may impose a civil administrative penalty pursuant to section 6 of P.L.    , c.    (C.      ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill).

 

     5.    (New section)  The board shall require each electric public utility conducting business in the State to annually submit to the board, on or before May 15th of each year, a review of strategies to mitigate potential flooding of substations constructed within flood hazard areas as defined by the Department of Environmental Protection.  The board shall require that the electric public utility address the feasibility of mitigation by, among other things, switching to other sources, deployment of mobile units, construction of flood walls, raising equipment, and the relocation of facilities.  The review should include timeframes to implement the recommended measures and cost estimates for each scenario considered.

 

     6.    R.S.48:2-42 is amended to read as follows:

     48:2-42.  [Any] a.  Notwithstanding the provisions of any law, rule, regulation, or board order to the contrary, any person [or], public utility, or other person or entity subject to the jurisdiction of the board that shall fail to comply with [an] any law, rule, regulation, or order of the board [, except an order to resume service which has been discontinued,] shall be [subject to a penalty of one hundred dollars for every day during which the default continues. Any person or public utility that shall fail to comply with any order of the board directing the public utility to resume service which has been discontinued shall be subject to a penalty of two hundred and fifty dollars for every day during which such default continues. Such penalties shall be recovered in an action at law in the name of the state] liable for a civil administrative penalty not to exceed $25,000 for each violation, except that any maximum civil penalty may not exceed $2,000,000 for any related series of events. Each day during which the violation continues shall constitute an additional, separate, and distinct violation.

     b.    Any civil administrative penalty may be compromised by the board in an amount and with conditions the board deems appropriate.  In determining the amount of the penalty, or the amount agreed upon in compromise, the board shall consider: the nature, circumstances, and gravity of the violation; the degree of the violator's culpability; any history of prior violations; any good faith effort on the part of the violator in attempting to achieve compliance; and any other factors the board determines to be appropriate.

     c.     Pursuit of any remedy specified in this section shall not preclude the pursuit of any other remedy provided by any other law except, if the penalty amount set forth in any other law, rule, regulation, or board order is less than the amount set forth in P.L.    , c.    (C.      ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill), then amounts set forth in P.L.    , c.    (C.      ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill) shall control.

     d.    Civil administrative penalties may be recovered, if necessary, in a summary proceeding pursuant to the "Penalty Enforcement Law of 1999," P.L.1999, c.274 (C.2A:58-10 et seq.).  The Superior Court shall have jurisdiction to enforce the provisions of the "Penalty Enforcement Law of 1999" in connection with P.L.    , c.    (C.      ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill).

     e.     Notwithstanding any law to the contrary, there is hereby established in the board a nonlapsing, special revenue fund called the "Board of Public Utilities Civil Penalty Fund" into which all penalties imposed or obtained pursuant to P.L.    , c.    (C.      ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill) shall be deposited.  The moneys in the Board of Public Utilities Civil Penalty Fund shall be used for the improvement of public utility service quality and reliability.

     f.     Consistent with section 1 of P.L.1988, c.100 (C. 48:2-21.14), any civil administrative penalty imposed under this act shall not be recoverable from ratepayers.

(cf: R.S.48:2-42)

 

7.  This act shall take effect immediately.

STATEMENT

 

     This bill, known as "The Reliability, Preparedness, and Storm Response Act," requires the Board of Public Utilities ("BPU") to develop and enforce performance benchmarks for service reliability and communications for electric public utilities and requires electric public utilities to submit to the BPU a review of strategies to mitigate flooding of substations within flood zones.

     In addition, the bill requires all public utilities conducting business in the State to file a service reliability plan and an emergency communications strategic plan for review and approval by the BPU.  After review of a public utility's service reliability or communications plan, the BPU may order the public utility to make such modifications as it deems reasonably necessary to remedy any deficiency.

     The BPU will have the authority to open an investigation to review the performance or communications of a public utility during an outage in the public utility's service area.  If the BPU finds that, as a result of the failure of a public utility to implement its service reliability plan or communications plan, the public utility's performance was materially less effective, the BPU may impose a civil administrative penalty.

     This bill amends existing law to increase the civil penalties paid by all public utilities for lapses in service delivery, preparedness, and responsiveness in emergencies.  Civil penalties will be increased from $100 a day to $25,000 for each violation, but penalties are not to exceed $2,000,000 for any series of related events.  The "Board of Public Utilities Civil Penalty Fund" will be established in the BPU, into which all penalties collected will be deposited.  The money in the fund will be used to increase public utilities' service quality and reliability.  Civil penalties will not be recoverable from ratepayers.

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