(TRENTON) — Assembly Utilities Chairman Upendra J. Chivukula today called for the restructuring of the Board of Public Utilities (BPU) following the agency’s failure to implement a series of measures that were signed into law.
Chivukula made this announcement following an evaluation of measures that were approved by the Assembly Telecom and Utilities Committee (ATU) in the last two legislative sessions and signed into law but that the BPU failed to implement through rulemaking.
He pointed to the groundbreaking Offshore Wind Economic Development Act he sponsored (A-2873) to incentivize wind power in New Jersey by providing $100 million in tax credits to qualified wind energy developers. But the BPU failed to implement an offshore wind renewable energy certificate program (ORECs) that would require that a certain percentage of electricity sold in the state be from offshore wind energy to make it viable for developers to manufacture wind power.
He also pointed to legislation (A-2528) that would provide industrial and commercial ratepayers with credits for investments in energy efficiency or energy conservation, that could be offset towards the Societal Benefit Charge (SBC).
The SBC is a monthly fee charged to to ratepayers that funds the use and development of renewable energy. This measure was in response to more hundreds of millions of dollars in clean energy funds being raided to balance the budget.
Chivukula (D-Somerset\ Middlesex) issued the following statement:
“The failure of the BPU to implement rulemaking has prevented several groundbreaking measures that were signed into law from being implemented and benefiting New Jersey ratepayers.
“This includes the landmark Offshore Wind Economic Development Act that could have helped catapult New Jersey become the first in offshore wind in the nation and created thousands of clean jobs. The measure (A-2873) we sponsored would have incentivized wind power in New Jersey by providing $100 million in tax credits to qualified wind energy developers.
“But the BPU failed to implement an Offshore Wind Renewable Energy Certificate program (ORECs) that would require that a certain percentage of electricity sold in the state come from offshore wind in order to make the manufacture of wind power viable for developers.
“Another landmark law (A-2528) that the BPU failed to implement would provide industrial and commercial ratepayers with credits for investments in energy efficiency or energy conservation that could be offset towards the monthly Societal Benefit Charge (SBC). The monthly fee on ratepayers bills funds the use and development of renewable energy.
“The measure was in response to an unprecedented raid of more than $800 million in clean energy funds generated by the SBC in the past four years and is intended to ensure that at least a portion of clean energy funds meant for the use and development of renewable sources are allocated for such purposes.
“The BPU continues to shortchange ratepayers and to violate the intent of the Legislature and the state’s highest executive with its failure to implement measures signed into law.
“If a full time BPU commissioners’ body is unable to act on laws for more than two years, then perhaps it is time to restructure the Board.
“The delays and lapses in the implementation of legislation point to a highly ineffective BPU, begging the question of whether we still need five full-time BPU Commissioners, each with a full-time staff assistant?
“It could benefit ratepayers to reduce the number of commissioners to three full-time or part-time commissioners so that the reduction in the cost of overheads of the Board can be assed on to ratepayers.
“The original purpose for five commissioners was that each would specialize in one area of the utilities — namely electricity, natural gas, water, waste water, and telecommunications and cable television — but that has not been the case.
“In the past four years, we have not witnessed the active engagement of the commissioners other than the BPU
President in his capacity as a member of the Governor’s cabinet.
“The BPU should also not be a waiting area for gubernatorial political appointees until they get nominated for judicial positions.
“I believe it is time for the restructuring of the BPU.”