Board of Public Utilities Now Calling for $200 Million Rate Decrease
After fighting for a year in opposition to a $31 million rate increase proposed by JCP&L, Senator Jim Holzapfel, Assemblyman Dave Wolfe and Assemblyman Greg McGuckin said that it now appears likely that the increase will be denied and rates may even be lowered for the utility’s customers throughout New Jersey.
“We opposed JCP&L’s rate increase proposal on principle,” said Holzapfel. “There were serious charges from state regulators that the utility had been earning more than was permitted. At the same time, the utility had demonstrated serious failures in responding to hurricanes Irene and Sandy and numerous other storms. It was clear JCP&L was both charging customers too much and not investing in preventative maintenance and upgrades that would prevent outages. Given these inconsistencies, we continue to believe JCP&L doesn’t deserve an extra cent of ratepayers’ money.”
Published reports indicate the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (BPU) has filed a brief recommending not only a denial of JCP&L’s rate increase proposal, but further calling for a $207.4 million rate cut due to the excess return the utility generated beyond what was authorized by the BPU.
“If the $200 million rate reduction proposed by the BPU is enacted, some estimate that the bills of JCP&L customers could drop by ‘at least one-third,’” said Wolfe. “That would be a real victory for customers who have long believed that JCP&L has been intentionally ignoring New Jersey’s needs to ship increased profits to their parent company in Ohio.”
In response to those concerns, Holzapfel, Wolfe and McGuckin introduced legislation (S-2537/A-3698 of the 2012-13 legislative session) in January of 2013 to prohibit a public utility from filing for a rate increase when their authorized rate of return is being questioned by the Board of Public Utilities.
Further, the legislators submitted testimony to a public hearing on the rate increase held by the New Jersey Office of Administrative Law on April 8, 2013. Their testimony detailed their opposition to the increase.
“I’ve been looking into allegations of overcharging and shoddy maintenance by JCP&L since 2012, and directly asked the company’s president during an appearance at a meeting of the Assembly Telecommunications & Utilities Committee to withdraw the rate increase proposal until those serious questions could be properly investigated,” added McGuckin. “The company refused that request, but now it looks like they still won’t get their rate increase. For the sake of the 1.1 million customers who have been long abused, I sincerely hope the commissioners of the BPU will do the right thing and vote for a well-deserved rate cut.”