TRENTON - A report released yesterday is criticizing how New Jersey's utilities responded to recent storms.

The preliminary report from the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities calls for the state's four publicly regulated utilities to immediately improve communication by adding staff, using social media to reach out to customers and identifying customers with special needs.

The report was critical of Jersey Central Power and Light for its performance during Hurricane Irene in particular, calling the utility's response "deficient."

A JCP&L spokesman says the company made improvements since Irene based the BPU's recommendations and feedback from customers.

Irene caused massive flooding and power outages, and a freak October snowstorm felled thousands of trees and cut power to about a million customers.