The following statement by Senator Jim Holzapfel and Assemblymen Dave Wolfe and Greg McGuckin of the 10th Legislative District will be read into the official record at today’s hearing on JCP&L’s proposed rate increase:
Senator Jim Holzapfel and Assemblymen Dave Wolfe and Greg McGuckin of the 10th Legislative District, are vehemently opposing JCP&L’s proposed rate increase. This increase will have a severe impact on our residents who were literally left in the dark in the weeks following Super Storm Sandy. Expecting our residents to pay additional money to JCP&L during a time of recovery is appalling. Their request for a rate hike is not only unfair, it’s offensive.
In the spring of 2012, the New Jersey Division of Rate Counsel issued a report which determined that JCP&L’s existing rates for electric service yield earnings far in excess of a reasonable rate of return. The Rate Counsel concluded that the findings are unjust and unreasonable and New Jersey ratepayers were entitled to relief.
At a recent Assembly Telecommunications & Utilities Committee, we respectfully requested JCP&L’s president to withdraw its proposed increase until the BPU determined if the company earned an excessive return in 2010. Since the company ignored the request, we introduced S-2537/A-3698 which prohibits a public utility from filing for a rate increase when a utility company’s authorized rate of return is being questioned by the Board of Public Utilities.
Our bill will prohibit a public utility from filing a rate increase request when it has been directed by the BPU to file a base rate case to determine whether the utility company has exceeded its authorized rate of return or if it has been notified by BPU that it is under investigation for exceeding its authorized rate of return. It also would prohibit the BPU from considering, reviewing or approving such a request under the same circumstances.
In light of suspicions that JCP&L overcharged ratepayers and following its disastrous response to the 2011 storms and continued poor performance in the aftermath of Super Storm Sandy, the company’s request for a rate increase is unconscionable. JCP&L should have used its 2010 profits to improve infrastructure and its response to major storms. It’s obvious that didn’t happen. Instead, they responded to Sandy with more misinformation and a lack of communication and preparation.
While it is our hope that BPU will do the right thing and deny the request, this bill will ensure that ratepayers are protected from unwarranted increases in the future.
JCP&L customers hold their collective breath every time the rains fall and the winds blow, because, based on previous disastrous performances, they fear prolonged loss of their power. Now those same rate payers are being asked to pay more to an energy provider that is clearly unreliable.
JCP&L has failed on several occasions to restore power in a timely manner to millions during widespread outages. Asking them to pay more for such deplorable service, especially when their earnings are in question is unthinkable. How can we grant a new rate increase if we don’t know if they exceeded their rate of return? If that is the case how do the ratepayers become compensated for that error? That should be decided first. They owe it to the rate payers.