Mayor Says City Plans to Oust JCP&L, While Moms "Power-Up" on Facebook

"I am furious at JCP&L for their lack of information," she says on her website.

With just over 2,300 Summit locations still without power in the community, nearly two weeks after super-storm Sandy, the mayor of Summit and some moms in the community are fighting back. Mayor Ellen Dickson has said that officials are planning on changing the ownership of power distribution in the city. While a Facebook group started last night is acting as a central location for street-by-street power outtage information.

"We are trying to get this solved," Dickson said in a morning post on her website, "But [we] are already making plans on how to change the ownership of the local distribution system to have better control of this essential service in the future."

This is Summit's third major storm in a little less than two years and power restoration has been deemed inadequate by many residents, with restoration taking days and weeks in the aftermaths of each event.

A group of powerless local moms have started a Facebook group called Power-Up Summit,NJ that's been catching fire. Originally reported on in the Independent Press, the site already boasts around 400 followers. 

It was started by Summit residents Julie Spencer Fuoti, Terry Andrews and Christina Cranley.

"We simply wanted to be helpful so people could see the magnitude of how many people were still out," Fuoti told Patch in a Facebook message. "There seemed to be plenty of crews from out of state with little to no direction from JCP&L."

Fuoti says the popularity of the group, as a place for residents to post street outages as well as their attempts to contact the NJ board of utilities has yielded a "good lesson on organizing communities," she said. "Never piss off mom."

The trio of moms who separately work in marketing, fundraising and media are all without power in their Summit homes.

"We were tired of feeling helpless and wanted to take some control," said Andrews, a co-organizer of the Power-Up group. "With help from some of our more Facebook savvy children, we created the group and it's great to see that it has spurred some action."

One group member writes:

"Candlelight vigil at City Hall? Group shredding or bonfire of JCPL bills?," wrote one group member.

Another group member details making a call to the president of JCP&L's parent company First Energy:

"Just spoke to "Kelly" in the chairmen office of First Energy Corp. She refused to give me her last name! I asked if Mr. Alexander would consider a town hall conference call to explain their plan for restoring power to our city."

It's no doubt that Summit residents are doing all that they can to deal with the power outage affect so many right now. Including Dickson:

"I have been in touch with the Governor’s office, our legislative representatives on a state and federal level officials at the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities, as well as JCP&L," she wrote in the statement on her website. "There is one identified crew in Summit doing work. I have personally been trying to field all the concerns of residents who are outraged at the lack of information as am I. I am furious at JCP&L for their lack of information."

The Summit moms who started Power-Up Summit, NJ are furious, too.



ashumphrey November 09, 2012 at 05:33 PM
Call Madison and adopt their model. They own their own power company and have nearly 100% back on line and information to homeowners was said to be suberb.
Brian Homa November 09, 2012 at 05:42 PM
I approve.
Brian Homa November 09, 2012 at 06:03 PM
Definitely a step in the right direction. Also- I'm not a Summit Mom but I think a candlelight vigil at City Hall is a GREAT idea. Keep the attention and pressure where it belongs.
John Burchenal November 09, 2012 at 06:23 PM
I am all for ousting these slackers but perhaps we should have waited until they restore our power. What is their incentive now?
T Durden November 09, 2012 at 06:37 PM
...finally...kudos to mayor dickson for taking this step ..only way to deal with a monopoly....the madison model seems ideal...now lets get our power up...sat/sun still looks too optimistic...
Wolfgang Günther November 09, 2012 at 07:08 PM
I would go further and insist that all power lines to be moved underground - just like gas and water are. Otherwise, when the next storm hits, the same situation will arise: days and weeks without power.
AG November 09, 2012 at 07:50 PM
T Durden November 09, 2012 at 08:41 PM
...of course..was that 7-0 vote as well...or did they make it 6-1 for optics...but hey the parking lot is almost done...you doin a good job brownie...
Max November 09, 2012 at 09:42 PM
Do not ban JCP&L before they remedy and compensate those who have suffered loss due to their incompetence.
AC November 09, 2012 at 11:20 PM
When will Birch Spring Drive get their power back? I am a mom who lives in Madison with power but has to watch my daughter suffer with promises of power every day! I have sorrow for those with much larger problems. I also agree that Summit should follow the Madison model!!!
Max November 10, 2012 at 12:24 AM
Chatham Township today announced curbside debris pickup, including remains of downed trees. Summit?
Camilo H. Smith (Editor) November 10, 2012 at 03:25 AM
Max, The transfer station is open.
Max November 10, 2012 at 04:25 AM
Thank you, Camilo. I do know that the transfer station is open. I have the sawed-up remains of two 40-foot trees on my property, and a small, 31-year-old car. I am hoping some of my tax dollars might help with transport or disposal.
Max November 10, 2012 at 04:27 AM
P.S. Thanks for your reporting on storm-related events.
Lara C November 10, 2012 at 06:40 AM
There are people all over the state facing the same problem. What makes Summit so special?
Lara C November 10, 2012 at 06:45 AM
I went to that page where residents were complaining they can't get rooms at the Grand Hotel (ones without power). And we're supposed to fell sympathy for them?
Jan Yager November 10, 2012 at 02:05 PM
Lara, it isn't about being special. It is difficult at best when the temperature inside your home is 48 degrees and no way to cook becoz everything has been thrown out due to long term power failure (12days now). Other towns who were rocked as we were have had their power restored. In addition. I would have gladly made other arrangements if I had been given a time table instead of promises. If I heard I wouldn't have power for 2weeks, I would have made arrangements long term with family elsewhere. Instead, we stayed here becoz we were told soon. Lastly, Summit residents do have big hearts and resources. I know many would jump to assist those worse off, once we knew our families and homes were secure. Many have already jumped in to assist others. So it is not about being special-it is about expected services in return for our monthly payments and honesty.
Joan k November 10, 2012 at 02:12 PM
So almost two weeks later after a lot if complaining and the mayor finally threatening to leave JCP&L do they finally send 16 trucks to summit per the summit website. I think the mayor was naive at best and incompetent at worse handling this storm issue. There was a real lack I foresight to what a plan of attack would be power wasn't restored for 3 days, 5 days, 10 days, 15 days, etc as if they did not go thorough these scenarios and just reacted each day to residents by posting on various websites a reiteration of JCP&L's poor forecast. The mayor relied absolutely on JCP&L for I formation on how extensive the damage was that seemed to be a mistake. There should have been a local assessment to make sure JCP&L was correct then hold them to accountability - by seeing how many work crews are coming for how long. It took till yesterday for a work crew to even come fix a line for us on woodland and we still have no power. Our patience is gone after 12 days with no heat and electricity with babies in the house
T Durden November 10, 2012 at 06:59 PM
..joan u r being kind..while i give the mayor credit for finally threatening the monopoly on day 12...the lack of leadership and competence was/is staggering...mindlessly regurging the monopoly's website or spin is not what is expected from the town's chief executive during a time of crisis....is it true that its the homeowner's responsibility to reattach the line to your house..and you need to get a permit!!!...u doin a good job BROWNIE!!! ....by the by there is no need to respond to lara c...trollin
RSM November 10, 2012 at 07:42 PM
Get that Summit Ave and 124 light going folks. Millburn/Short hills doing lot better in mobilizing people. Areas by the shore that took a direct hit have power, jersey city, Bayonne, Newark and surrounding towns got power days ago.
Michelle Virzi, Esq. November 10, 2012 at 08:02 PM
Mayor Dickson and the Council President should step down. Deplorable leadership.
AStar Gazer November 11, 2012 at 11:00 AM
Yes just bury all the lines. When this cam up a few years ago it was estimated that in Summit alone the cost would be $1.4 billion and take five years to complete. The projection was that recovery of the cost would increase monthly bills by about 40% over a twenty year period. Certainly all Summit households could afford that. But then again, it would no solve the problem of down feeder lines that would need to be buried also. Cheaper would be installing generators at each house to include a 500 gal above ground fuel tank or natural gas link. The cost is estimated to be only $90 million to cover all households in Summit. I think that is the way to go.
Concerned Taxpayer November 11, 2012 at 01:47 PM
Do you think the Mayor came up with the idea to replace JCP&L on her own? Interesting to see how, after 12 days she is now aligning herself with the solution, the true volunteer citizens and the "restoration" efforts when, 10 days AFTER the storm she didn't feel it was her job to call the utility company for the citizens of her town. Just sayin'.
AG November 11, 2012 at 02:44 PM
Dear Council Members Rob Rubino, and Tom Getzendanner, Hi! Maybe you don’t remember me, but I live in your Ward in summit. As you know, it has been 13 days and Fernwood Road still doesn’t have any power. I know you know where Fernwood is, because when you were running for office, you found it in order to come and ask for my vote. I can understand you were busy for the first few days of this blackout, but two weeks later, and you still could not bring yourself to knock on my door? Send me an email? Leave a note at my door just like you did when you were running for office? Here is a hypothesis: Mayor Dickson is a neighbor of Fernwood, she told the power company to fix her house, (and your Ward) last so it would not look bad for her and so she could keep telling people that she doesn’t have power either. What do you think? By the way, from what I understand, Mayor Dickson has been at the Summit Grand for the black-out so it may not matter to her what happens in your Ward. I am not expecting miracles. I know there are a few other streets that are still dark. But really, in all this time, couldn’t you have least come by once to check out the people who live in your Ward? Even just to ask if there on newborns on the street, elderly folks, people who might be ill? You sure did not hesitate to come by when you wanted my vote.
T Durden November 11, 2012 at 03:26 PM
...again, they took a vote...it was probably 7-0 ..uh..6-1...to not go around town to visit the impacted citizens of summit over the past 2 weeks...join the mayor and this council at the grand summit to toast a job well done ... u doin a good job brownie....ah forget it...i'm done...back to project mayhem
Max November 17, 2012 at 09:08 AM
"Mayor Says City Plans to Oust JCP&L" then asks at the next City Council meeting if the City has the legal right to change its public utilities. Let's hear the plan, Ms. Mayor, let's hear the plan.
Lara C November 18, 2012 at 05:08 PM
At what cost? And Summit would run its own electric utility? That is laughable. They can't even sort out the parking problems or provide incentives for merchants to remain downtown.
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