MILLSTONE: Residents lament power outages

Mayor urges residents must make sure their trees are trimmed back

by Jane Meggitt, Special Writer
MILLSTONE — For many township residents, power failures are almost a way of life. At the June 19 Township Committee meeting, one resident asked the governing body to contact the top people at Jersey Central Power and Light to address the issue.
   Ramon Recalde, of Robbins Road South, said that he has lived in Third World countries in the past where the power outages are not as bad as those he’s experienced in Millstone.
   Mr. Recalde, originally from Ecuador, said his six-year-old son says “We’re going to lose power,” every time it rains.
   Mr. Recalde, who moved to Millstone in 2001, said the situation is getting progressively worse and that he’s been given the “runaround” when calling JCP&L, and thus came to the Township Committee for help.
   Mayor Nancy Grbelja noted that she’s on the same circuit as Mr. Recalde and also deals with frequent outages.
   Mayor Grbelja said she meets with JCP&L liaison Gerry Ricciardi every month and that the areas most frequently affected in the township stretch from Cheryl Lane to Stillhouse Road to Clarksburg Road/Route 524.
   Mayor Grbelja said that a few months ago, the power went out several times in one day because JCP&L contractors were performing upgrades in the area, but failed to notify customers that these outages would occur because of the work.
   According to the mayor, the frequent power outages are due to trees falling on electric lines that run through the 5,000-acre Assunpink Wildlife Management Area.
   Committeeman Robert Kinsey said that the power company often has to deal with access issues when trees fall on lines in the wildlife management area.
   The mayor said further that there’s a serious problem with speeding in the township and that motorists often crash into poles, knocking out power.
   Deputy Mayor Michael Kuczinski said that 73 percent of the power outages results from downed trees and 15 percent result from accidents, with the rest JCP&L equipment-related.
   The community is heavily treed, and Deputy Mayor Kuczinski noted that years ago, many of the trees in the developments were below the power lines, but have since grown above them.
   Mayor Grbelja said residents must make sure their trees are trimmed back off the lines.
   Township Administrator Thomas Antus said that Millstone was one of five towns in the state selected to take part in a vegetation management program, specifically dealing with trees. He said the first meeting with the state takes place next month.
   Mr. Recalde pointed out that the committee introduced a bond ordinance that night in the amount of $99,750 for the acquisition and installation of generators in various municipal buildings.
   ”This is the United States and we’re investing $100,000 for generators. This isn’t a Third World country — this is Millstone,” he said.