In Brief

Lawmakers want utility companies to reimburse customers for goods spoiled during power outages

By: - June 2, 2022 7:03 am

The bills would allow customers to seek reimbursement for spoiled goods after power outages that last more than 72 hours. (Daniella Heminghaus for New Jersey Monitor)

As catastrophic storms become more common in the Garden State, lawmakers are scheduled to discuss two measures Thursday that would require public utility companies to reimburse customers for goods spoiled during extensive power outages. 

The two measures — A1896 and A3313— would both require public utilities to reimburse customers who lose power for more than 72 hours, including for food and prescription medicine. 

When a tropical storm rocked the state in August 2020, some people were kept in the dark for a week. At the time, PSE&G voluntarily reimbursed customers for up to $250 worth of spoiled food. During Hurricane Ida, electricity went out in 63,000 homes in New Jersey for days. 

The bills would require customers to file a claim to the Board of Public Utilities detailing how long the outage lasted and including an itemized list of spoiled goods and proofs of purchase. 

While the first measure doesn’t have a reimbursement limit, the latter limits the coverage to $500 for spoiled food. 

The two bills are scheduled to be discussed in the Assembly Telecommunications and Utility Committee Thursday morning but are not expected to be voted on. Both measures were introduced during the last legislative session and did not move from committee.

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Sophie Nieto-Munoz
Sophie Nieto-Munoz

Sophie Nieto-Muñoz, a New Jersey native and former Trenton statehouse reporter for NJ.com, shined a spotlight on the state’s crumbling unemployment system and won several awards for investigative reporting from the New Jersey Press Association. She was a finalist for the Livingston Award for Young Journalists for her report on PetSmart's grooming practices, which was also recognized by the New York Press Club. Sophie speaks Spanish and is proud to connect to the Latinx community through her reporting.

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