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By ARep | January 29th, 2013 - 5:20pm
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Assemblyman Sean T. Kean (R-Monmouth and Ocean) introduced legislation yesterday that requires electric public utilities to implement flood mitigation plans for certain substations and prohibits a rate increase until that plan is implemented.

Kean drafted the bill (A-3765) in response to local substations that have experienced flooding or came dangerously close to flooding. The Glendola substation in Wall Township flooded during Hurricane Irene in 2011 for seven days and again during Superstorm Sandy which caused a substantial population of Wall Township to be without power for an extended period of time. During Sandy, water also came dangerously close to the Sea Girt substation located at Sea Girt Army Camp.

“We know that the Glendola substation is a problem. Unfortunately, it is located near the Shark River and only a few feet above tide levels,” said Kean. “Before the ratepayers are asked to pay more money, electric companies should be required to fix known problems.”

Kean’s bill directs the Board of Public Utilities to promulgate electric flood proof design regulations for electric distribution substations which have experienced flooding in the last 10 years preceding the bill and the flooding resulted in outages of 24 hours or more for a certain percentage of customers of a municipality. In addition, the measure also requires each electric public utility to submit flood mitigation plans in accordance with the regulations. No rate increases will be granted to an electric public utility until a plan is implemented.

Kean remarked, “I believe the electric utilities should be held accountable for undertaking flood mitigation efforts at these substations. After a disaster occurs and a homeowner experiences flooding, they are required take measures to lower their risk of flooding again or else their insurance will sky rocket in price. The electric company should have to flood proof their substations before they are given more money from ratepayers.

“After Hurricane Irene flooded the Glendola substation, JCP&L should have anticipated that a future problem could have been averted by proper planning. Their failure to act caused tremendous problems for residents who went without power for an extended period of time,” said Kean. “We cannot allow this cycle to continue and we cannot allow the utilities to be granted a rate increase when they have not protected their infrastructure.”

In addition, Kean noted a recent letter by Stefanie Brand, director of the Division of Rate Counsel within the Treasury Department, recommended that flood-prone substations be elevated or have flood walls built around existing structures.

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