(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Herb Conaway M.D. and Troy Singleton to improve customer awareness of potential water rate increases was released Thursday by an Assembly panel.
The bill (A-3038) requires public water utilities seeking to increase water rates to provide notice to customers of any hearing or proceeding to be held by the Board of Public Utilities involving such a request.
The notice would have to be given within a reasonable time before a hearing or proceeding and shall be conspicuously enclosed within the bills for service sent by the utility, or other written notice as appropriate.
The bill stems from concerns about a recent New Jersey American Water Co. rate increase in Burlington County.
“Consumers are trying to save every dollar they can, but too often water companies spring rate increases on them without sufficient notice,” said Conaway (D-Burlington). “We all know the frustration of suddenly seeing our water bill skyrocket, so this let’s make sure customers have the information they need before any increase takes effect. This bill will allow consumers to not only fight an increase, but to be prepared for one should it be approved.”
“Consumer awareness is always a priority, especially when it comes to the potential for increased rates,” said Singleton (D-Burlington). “Hopefully, the BPU and utilities will see fit to properly control water rates, but this bill will at least help make customers aware ahead of time so they can prepare for potential increases. This is consumer protection and open government.”
The bill would take effect immediately.