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Putting upgrades to work on N.J.'s power infrastructure

NJBIZ worked hard to take a statement out of context when naming Chuck Jones, president of FirstEnergy utilities, to its recent Power 100 column.

At a February 2012 FirstEnergy investor presentation, Jones cited the high cost of building the electric system to withstand the impact of massive storms in 2011. His comments came as he was addressing the company's annual planning budget for storm repairs and the reality that Hurricane Irene and the October 2011 snowstorm were widely considered 100-year events. The isolated quote featured in NJBIZ's Power 100 column falsely suggested that FirstEnergy is not investing in its Jersey Central Power & Light subsidiary.

The truth is that FirstEnergy, through JCP&L, has invested heavily in New Jersey while maintaining the lowest rates in the state among investor-owned utilities. JCP&L has spent $165 million in upgrades and repairs during the two 2011 storms and implemented a $200 million service reliability improvement plan in 2012. Moreover, JCP&L has invested $1.6 billion in upgrades during the past decade to meet customers' needs today and in the future. And we will continue to invest in our system, despite massive storms like Hurricane Sandy that required more than $600 million in restoration costs.

NJBIZ missed the mark again and misled its readers about JCP&L's commitment to customers.

Don Lynch, president
Jersey Central Power & Light

Insurers worked to rebuild New Jersey after Sandy hit

Approximately three months ago, superstorm Sandy slammed into New Jersey, resulting in the worst disaster to ever hit the shores of the Garden State.

It is estimated that there have been approximately 488,000 Sandy-related auto, business, flood and homeowners insurance claims submitted by residents since the storm. Tested like never before, New Jersey insurers went to work helping their neighbors in need. The insurance industry also brought in thousands of additional claims professionals from around the country, and about 60 percent of these claims have been resolved. While many of the remaining claims are flood claims handled by the National Flood Insurance Program, the industry is working hard to close its remaining outstanding claims. However, the infusion of cash from insurance payouts is a significant investment into the local economy and is helping to jumpstart the recovery process.

The residents and business community in this state showing steadfast resilience and determination were ready to begin the process of putting their lives back together and begin rebuilding as soon as it was safe to do so. But many, including New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, have emphasized that it is critical that rebuilding in New Jersey is done smarter and stronger in the aftermath of Sandy.

The governor recently announced new Hurricane Sandy Flood Map Regulations that will help ensure coastal residents are better prepared for future natural disasters. The Property Casualty Insurer Association of America applauds Christie's commitment to strengthening New Jersey's guidelines on rebuilding standards. The enactment and enforcement of tough standards for building codes, property development and other loss prevention and mitigation requirements are a key component to long-term natural catastrophe preparation.

For each dollar increase in construction costs associated with the adoption of stronger building code provisions, there is a long-term savings of $3 to $16. Over the coming months and years, the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America looks forward to working closely with New Jersey's leaders during this recovery period. Our members are fully devoted to making sure New Jersey families and businesses are able to get back on their feet as quickly as possible. Together, we can make New Jersey better than it was before the storm.

Micaela Isler, assistant vice president
Property Casualty Insurers Association of America
Washington, D.C.

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