CHIVUKULA, VOSS, RAMOS, JOHNSON & COUTINHO BILLS TO HELP BUSINESSES AND CONSUMERS WITH UTILITY BILLS RELEASED BY ASSEMBLY PANEL

(TRENTON) — A three-bill package sponsored by five Assembly Democratic lawmakers to make it easier for consumers and businesses to pay utility bills and to help businesses save on energy costs was released Monday by an Assembly committee.

The three bills are sponsored by Assembly members Upendra Chivukula, Dr. Joan M. Voss, Ruben J. Ramos Jr., Gordon Johnson and Albert Coutinho.

“Technology is so readily at our fingertips in this day and age, but our laws haven’t kept pace when it comes to paying a utility bill or finding ways to help businesses save on energy,” said Chivukula (D-Somerset), who chairs the Assembly Telecommunications and Utilities Committee that released the three bills. “With these bills, we would make it easier for consumers and businesses alike.”

“Some of our large commercial and industrial power customers are also are biggest job creators, and amid this economy anything that can be done to help them save money and preserve jobs and create new ones is a good thing,” said Voss (D-Bergen).

“Using technology to help businesses save money and to make it easier for both consumers and businesses to pay their bills just makes common sense,” said Ramos (D-Hudson).

“We can do many, many things electronically these days, so this is just the logical next step to help consumers and businesses save money and time,” said Johnson (D-Bergen).

“Anything we can do to promote economic development and make it easier to live and do business in this state is the smart thing to do,” said Coutinho (D-Essex).

The first bill (A-907) is sponsored by Chivukula, Voss and Ramos and directs the Board of Public Utilities to establish programs to assist large commercial and industrial electric power customers with reducing energy usage. These programs would include the installation of various energy-saving devices such as hourly meters, real-time telemetry equipment and advanced meter technology and any other energy conservation programs established by the board.

The second bill (A-909) sponsored by Chivukula and Johnson would permit any company under BPU jurisdiction to offer, upon the request of a customer, the ability to pay bills and receive information electronically.

The final bill (A-911) sponsored by Chivukula, Ramos and Coutinho would permit any public provider of water, sewerage or electric services to offer, upon the request of a customer, the the ability to pay bills and receive information electronically. The bills now go the Assembly Speaker, who decides if and when to post them for a floor vote.

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