Assembly Panel OKs Burzichelli, Eustace & Mazzeo Bill to Help Residents Reduce Utility Bills

Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats John Burzichelli, Tim Eustace and Vincent Mazzeo aimed at reducing residents public utility bills was advanced by an Assembly panel on Thursday.

“Anything that can be done to help reduce the burden of rising utility rates for residents should be done,” said Burzichelli (D-Cumberland, Gloucester, Salem). “In this economy, every dollar counts. We should use any remaining funding wisely. We do that by helping to reduce the impact the cost of utilities has on the family budget.”

The bill (A-3122) provides that all funds collected in relation to the societal benefits charge (SBC) which, as of the commencement of each state fiscal year, have not been spent for at least one year and have not been allocated to the electric and gas public utilities to recover the costs as or have not been committees pursuant to any contract to which the Board of Public Utilities (BPU) is a party, is to be appropriated to those public utilities within 60 days of the appropriation for the purpose of providing a credit to electric and gas public utility customers in a manner to be determined by BPU regulation. Each customer is to be awarded a pro-rated shared of the funds through a credit on that customer’s electric or gas bill, as appropriate.

“With perpetually rising costs of gas and electric, New Jersey residents deserve relief,” said Eustace (D-Bergen, Passaic). “Providing that relief through credits with remaining SBC funds will be helpful to residents working hard to make ends meet.”

“Harsh winter weather and, now, the onset of summer are major factors that impact gas and electric rates for residents,” said Mazzeo (D- Atlantic). “High utility bills place a strain on many of New Jersey’s middle-class families and seniors. Since the SBC is paid by every rate payer, returning any money left to the residents who pay this charge is the right thing to do.”

The measure was released by the Assembly Telecommunications Committee.