Cribbing and pile-drivers have become a common sight in towns along the New Jersey shore, as thousands of rebuilding owners move to lift their houses above the region's Base Flood Elevation. But the Asbury Park Press reports that owners aren't finding it so simple to address their homes' electrical service ( "JCP&L: Residents can build stairs to meter," by Russ Zimmer and David P. Willis).
Jersey Central Power and Light, the electric utility in much of the area, is still requiring electric meters to be located no higher than five feet from grade, even if that's in the flood zone. The rule is reasonable enough in a high and dry location: The idea is to make it safe and convenient to read the meter. But Angelo Valente of Monmouth Beach is one Jersey resident who finds the requirement odd. Valente told the paper, "Everything we're doing is supposed to make a better-built house that could avoid problems in the future, and the utility is telling us we have to build our box in the flood zone."
Now, the power company has modified its policy, saying that builders can elevate the meter if they provide a staircase (minimum 36 inches wide) to allow utility workers to reach the meter. But as Valente observes, steps may not be practical for every house or lot. Valente's builder, Jim Sullivan of Eco Coastal Building, told the Asbury Park Press, "It's just kind of crazy that we're putting this customer-owned equipment back into the flood zone."