Last week, utility provider JCP&L announced it was investing $200 million this year to improve it electric support system in an effort to improve service reliability. Deputy Assembly Republican Leader Amy Handlin today asked why JCP&L did not disclose at the same time that it had filed for a 4.5 percent rate increase to recover costs from Superstorm Sandy and other storms which was revealed the next day.
“On Thursday, JCP&L was out front with the news that it was investing $200 million to improve its infrastructure and that ratepayers wouldn’t be affected because the costs were already part of the company’s yearly budget,” said Handlin, R-Monmouth. “At the end of the day on Friday, the utility then informs the public it is filing for a 4.5 percent increase to cover cleanup costs from previous storms. JCP&L is badly misinformed if it thought that tidbit would escape public notice.
“Good public relations starts with being upfront about everything, including an increase request that will be passed onto ratepayers,” said Handlin, who has been critical of the utility’s efforts in restoring lost power over the last two years. “Ratepayers deserve to see improvements to the critical framework in JCP&L’s system and have assurances that their infrastructure is reliable before a rate increase is even entertained.
“JCP&L should focus on improving its performance to its customers,” stated Handlin. “On Wall Street, bad news is often revealed after the closing bell. For customers of JCP&L, there is no closing bell. They just want to know the lights are on.”
Last year, the Division of Rate Counsel filed a petition contending JCP&L is earning a profit exceeding 12 percent in New Jersey – far above the allowable 8.5 percent.
Handlin pointed out that PSE&G, the state’s largest utility provider, recently announced it was seeking the BPU’s approval to spend $3.9 billion over the next 10 years to protect and improve its electric and gas systems against severe weather conditions.