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Caldwell Residents Demand Reliable Service From PSE&G

Residents in the Roseland Avenue area of the borough say they have routinely experienced power outages for years.

Caldwell residents fed up by frequent power outages came face-to-face with PSE&G representatives Tuesday night in a town hall-style meeting arranged by the borough’s mayor. 

More than 50 disgruntled customers of the utility company listened and asked questions for more than an hour in the gymnasium of the Caldwell Community Center as three employees of the utility company outlined a plan to improve service.

Regional Public Affairs Manager for Essex and Passaic Counties for PSE&G Everton Scott said trees are the root cause in the majority of outages and crews have already begun to work on more than 60 problem areas.

“We think if we execute our plan as we’ve laid out, we’ll see some relief,” Scott said, adding, “We can never make a commitment to no outages.”

Scott focused on the uptick in outages since severe weather storms like Tropical Storm Irene and the freak snowstorm of October 2011 struck New Jersey. Those storms were followed by Superstorm Sandy last October, which flooded the substation and downed an unprecedented number of trees and branches, leaving the Roseland Avenue area without power for nine days.

Scott said the repairs and replacement of damaged equipment after Sandy should have led to more reliability.

But residents asked why then did they lose power on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day? Some contended the area has had unreliable electric service for years, if not decades. Outages from flickers to ones lasting several hours are common, they said.

Virginia McAlinden said she has lived on Wooten Road for more than 30 years and that power outages in her neighborhood are nothing new.

“We are paranoid people. We live in fear,” she said. “We really do need another source of power."

McAlinden was one of several people to describe the power outages experienced by her and her neighbors to those associated with Third-world countries, and more than one person at the meeting suggested “seceding” from the current power circuit or turning to underground power lines.

Roseland Avenue residents are on the end of a circuit that begins in West Orange and winds through Livingston, Roseland and Essex Fells before ending in Caldwell.

Scott said he would discuss the possibility of switching circuits and get back to the mayor, calling another meeting with residents, if necessary. He said the high cost of underground lines could rule out that option.

Robert Hagglund, Division Forester for PSE&G, said he personally drove along the circuit and identified 61 problem areas. Hagglund said tree crews have already completed 14 locations and identified three more. He said he has “empowered” his crews to find additional problems.

While Hagglund was reluctant to give a completion date because of unpredictable factors such as weather, he said the end of February was his best guess.

After the trees on public property are taken care of, Hagglund said he would work with Essex Fells’s officials and property owners to remove trees on private land.

Housing on Roseland Avenue in Caldwell consists mostly of apartments and condominiums. There is a fire department and several businesses along the stretch of road. 

Hilda January 30, 2013 at 08:26 PM
Do you really think PSE&G cares about their customers?
Dom Aricchi January 31, 2013 at 01:02 AM
Amazing how these Electrical Wizards go to a meeting with a Bag Full of Excuses. What have these "Empowered" Workers been doing to identify potential weak points before hand? No More Break-Down Maintenance Only Practices. If they cannot see beyond their noses, they should seek out a new career.
Uncle Albert January 31, 2013 at 03:35 PM
The problem is not PSE&G. The problem is an antiquated power grid which is above ground and weaving through thousands upon thousands of old trees. Our power grid needs to be placed underground like they do in Europe, Japan and some modern American cities. Remember that New Jersey was founded by the Dutch and English way back in the 1600's, and our towns were piecemealed together as our little towns and villages grew into major cities and vast suburban areas. What should have been done years and years ago is what New York City did back in the 1920's, and that is to place the power lines & telephone lines underground. Placing the lines underground today would be cost prohibitive.
gregory l. mitchell February 01, 2013 at 10:18 PM
Uncle Albert:Your last line sums it up.Having worked in the utility industry for 42 years,much of it in the "buried" construction Dept.All new work has been buried for a few decades now,BUT ONLY NEW WORK.This can be done because streets are brand new,trees have been removed etc.Now,many people do ask "why don't they take it all down and bury it?"Well,you named it,just think,all streets,intersections,driveways,sidewalks,lawns would have to be dug up-the job would be monumental,having the hundreds and hundreds of workmen(employees) that would all have to be paid,the heavy construction equipment which would have to be purchased etc.Our electric,phone and catv bills would be astronomical-we could not afford to pay them.After thinking a moment most people come to the realization that you did.Most problems with utilities are local and can be addressed.Being unfamiliar with your problems I would not know how to rectify it at this time.Hopefully It will be rectified for the residents soon. Respectfully,G.L.Mitchell

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