Assembly Panel OKs Burzichelli, Eustace & Mazzeo Bill to Protect Against Utility Fund Raids

(TRENTON) – Legislation Assembly Democrats John Burzichelli, Tim Eustace and Vincent Mazzeo sponsored to prevent the raiding of a fund designed to, among other things, promote clean energy was recently advanced by an Assembly panel.
“Anything that can be done to help reduce the burden of rising utility rates for residents should be done,” said Burzichelli (D-Gloucester/Salem/Cumberland). “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 that as of the commencement of each state fiscal year have neither been spent for at least one year nor allocated to the electric and gas public utilities to recover costs, or have not been committed pursuant to any contract to which the Board of Public Utilities is a party, are to be reappropriated in the following year.
The bill requires the BPU to factor these reappropriated surplus funds in setting the societal benefits charge for the subsequent fiscal year.
Gov. Christie, since taking office, has siphoned off several hundred millions of dollars in clean energy funding to help fix his budget shortfalls.
“With perpetually rising costs of gas and electric, New Jersey consumers deserve protection,” said Eustace (D-Bergen/Passaic). “Providing relief by ensuring these particular funds won’t be raided will be helpful to residents working hard to make ends meet.”
“High utility bills place a strain on many of New Jersey’s middle-class families and seniors,” said Mazzeo (D- Atlantic). “Since the charge is paid by every rate payer, protecting any money leftover is the right thing to do.”
The measure was released by the Assembly Appropriations Committee chaired by Burzichelli.