By Assemblywoman Caroline Casagrande
A state administrative law judge has recommended state regulators cut Jersey Central Power & Light’s rates by $107.5 million. It is now time for the Board of Public Utilities to act. JCP&L customers have waited over three years for relief. The BPU should respond quickly and in the best interest of consumers who have been footing the bill.
In 2011, the Division of Rate Counsel voiced concerns that JCP&L was earning excessive profits and not investing in infrastructure improvements. BPU ordered JCP&L to open its books to determine whether its profits were reasonable. The findings proved they were not, which is what the ratepayer advocate and I had been saying all along. BPU staff recommended that JCP&L cut its rates by $169.8 million.
In April 2013, when JCP&L sought a rate increase, Assemblywoman Amy Handlin and I spoke out in opposition at a public hearing in Freehold. We presented the BPU with a petition with 1,600 signatures of individuals who cited the utility’s poor performance and communication with customers after superstorm Sandy and Hurricane Irene.
JCP&L is expected to file an appeal of the judge’s recent recommendation. It is my hope BPU will do its job, and protect ratepayers from illegally high utility rates. Consumers have a right to expect reliable, quality service. They were overcharged and it’s time to start repaying that money without excuse or delays. We know we can’t be late paying our electric bills. The state shouldn’t let JCP&L be late returning people their own money.
Caroline Casagrande represents New Jersey’s 11th Legislative District in the State General Assembly. The 11th district is comprised of Allenhurst; Asbury Park; Colts Neck; Deal; Eatontown; Freehold Borough; Freehold Township; Interlaken; Loch Arbour; Long Branch; Neptune City; Neptune Twp.; Ocean Twp.; Red Bank;Shrewsbury Bor.; Shrewsbury Twp.; Tinton Falls; and West Long Branch