TRENTON – The Senate today gave final approval a bill sponsored by Senator Raymond J. Lesniak to authorize electric or gas utility companies to improve safety in neighborhoods where abandoned buildings still have functioning hookups which are often rigged dangerously by thieves.
“Illegal hookups to gas or electric utility outlets in abandoned buildings can easily lead to explosions which create life-threatening situations for families living nearby,” said Senator Lesniak, D-Union. “Utilities need the authority to enter abandoned buildings in a timely manner so nearby residents or businesses are kept from harm’s way.”
Under Senator Lesniak’s bill, S-1402/A-803, an electric or gas utility would be authorized to enter an abandoned building in the company of a law enforcement officer, discontinue service and remove all of the utility equipment.
“You don’t have to be a licensed electrician to be a thief and this fact often prompts those with bad intentions to rig utility equipment to obtain gas or electricity,” Senator Lesniak said. PSE&G estimates there are about 5,000 abandoned properties in New Jersey with working meters. The measure was approved 38-0 by the Senate and now awaits action by the Governor.