After a recovery that lasted almost two weeks, drawing questions and often heated criticism of the utility company, PSE&G has fully restored power to Ridgewood and Glen Rock.
Frustration with the utility was evident in the public comments during Ridgewood’s Wednesday night Village Council meeting, where residents, many of whom still lacked electricity, voiced their concerns about the company’s credibility.
“I’ve lived here since 1994,” Sharon Maes, a North Pleasant resident, told the Council. “The first year I moved in it was a year we had one snowstorm after the other and I never, ever lost power. For years I never lost power. Every storm now my street is down.”
Village officials echoed their concerns.
“To me, really, on the communication side we’ve had so many problems,” Mayor Paul Aronsohn told one resident, citing the repeated failures of the utility to meet its own public estimates for power restoration.
The Saturday after the storm, PSE&G had announced through the governor’s office that power would be restored to Ridgewood by midnight that Sunday. The timetable was pushed back to Monday, but many still remained in the dark on Tuesday morning. Similar optimistic forecasts for Glen Rock fell short. “This misinformation has really made a difficult situation even more difficult,” Aronsohn added.
Residents who called PSE&G during the days after the storm probably heard an automated message assuring customers that most power would be restored by Friday, November 9. This promise, at least, appears to have been kept; it confirmed on its website Saturday morning that all but a small percentage of homes had been restored.
Glen Rock Mayor John van Keuren, who accompanied utility crews last week, confirmed that the last blocks in the borough were restored Friday evening. “If there were houses still without power, they were individual cases that required a lot of hands on attention,” he told Patch.
The PSE&G work schedule, available on its website, indicated that only one of these individual cases remained in each town. According to the schedule, crews were being assigned to address individual houses Sunday.
Still, officials cite the lack of communication with the utility for a slow reopening of streets and clearance of debris in the wake of the storm. Ridgewood’s Office of Emergency Management director, Jeremy Kleiman, reported that Village crews could not safely enter some areas because they could not determine from PSE&G which downed wires were still live. “PSE&G has not had one central point of accurate information nor have they made themselves readily available to us,” he said.
Given this necessity of cooperation between the company and municipalities for effective recovery, it is likely that these issues will linger even now that power has been restored. “After this is all over,” said Aronsohn, “we’re going to be doing a series of lessons learned exercised. Part of that is going to be bringing PSE&G in and having a dialogue with residents, asking and answering a lot of the questions that people have.”