Senators Joe Pennacchio and Kevin O’Toole released the following today after it was reported that the state Board of Public Utilities filed a brief recommending JCP&L should cut customer rates by more than $200 million because the utility had earned a profit above its approved amount. The Senators have urged the BPU to reject JCP&L’s application for a $31 million rate increase.
“I commend the BPU staff for heeding calls by Senator O’Toole and I to urge that thousands of people who already pay some of the highest utility rates in the country for unreliable service will not have to cough up even more of their hard-earned money,” said Pennacchio (R-Morris). “JCP&L failed its customers here time after time in past storms, yet now tried to grab more of their hard-earned cash to further line the pockets of its parent company. The attempted rate hike was flat wrong and I hope BPU commissioners will officially act on this recommendation and put money back in the hands of the customers too often left in the dark by JCP&L.”
Senators Pennacchio and O’Toole have both written letters to the BPU urging JCP&L’s requested rate increase be denied and publicly called for the rate increase denial earlier this month.
“The BPU court filing is great news for New Jersey residents, who already pay the highest property taxes and seventh-highest electric rates in the country,” said O’Toole (Bergen, Essex, Morris, Passaic). “BPU staff is right to recognize there should be consequences when a utility company chooses to pocket profits at all costs while ignoring its obligation to invest in infrastructure and communication improvements. A full denial of this ridiculous rate increase will send a message that New Jersey customers can’t be treated as a cash cow for corporate profits.”
Following Superstorm Sandy Senators Pennacchio and O’Toole introduced the Storm Response Act of 2012 in order to significantly decrease or nullify the time New Jerseyans are without utilities in the wake of natural disasters and emergencies, by holding utilities financially accountable for failings. This initiative stems from state Board of Public Utilities’ recommendations (here) related to Hurricane Irene and the October 2011 snowstorm, which caused extensive, sustained power outages across the state.
The bill has not yet been posted for a vote. [TLS]