Assemblymen Call Rate Increase a Burden on Taxpayers
As public hearings for the Jersey Central Power & Light (JCP&L) rate increase come to a close today, Assemblyman Wayne DeAngelo and Assemblyman Daniel Benson (both D-Hamilton) called on the Board of Public Utilities (BPU) to reject this proposed rate hike and instead work with JCP&L to increase their customer service to a standard worthy of those New Jersey residents.
“This increase is ill-conceived, ill-timed and not in the best interests of the JCP&L consumers who should not be treated like an ATM machine for a company that is widely regarded in this state as woefully lacking in customer service,” said DeAngelo, who serves as the vice-chairman of the Assembly Telecommunications and Utilities Committee.
“The requested JCP&L rate increase an insult to injury for the thousands of New Jersey families and businesses who still are grappling on a daily basis with the devastation of Sandy, Irene and the other violent weather patterns that have impacted our state. Our first priority must be to focus on rebuilding our communities and upgrading infrastructure to prevent future damage and costly repairs,” said Benson.
Under the amended petition filed by JCP&L, the company is seeking to recover $170 million in costs from Hurricane Irene and the October 2011 snowstorm – plus $603 million JCP&L spent during Superstorm Sandy and the nor’easter that occurred shortly thereafter. If approved, the proposed new rates will yield an overall net operating revenue increase of approximately 5.1 percent — or $85 per year for the average customer.
“If the Board of Public Utilities approves this rate increase, their customers will have no choice whether to pay it. They cannot switch providers or negotiate for a better rate based on their family’s needs. We have to protect residents from such a large increase, when so many are still hurting from the effects of these storms,” added Benson.
“A large portion of the customers who will pay this increase are seniors living on fixed incomes or low and middle-income families struggling in this lagging economy. They will be forced to make cuts to their necessary household budget to cover the cost for this multi-million dollar corporation,” added DeAngelo. “By helping a company recover money for their costs incurred in providing a service to their customers, we are setting families up for a financial nightmare.”
DeAngelo and Benson have previously opposed the proposed rate hike and have appealed to JCP&L to hold a town hall in central jersey to speak to the residents of the 14th Legislative District about the concerns raised by residents and businesses. The assembly members urge the company to abandon its efforts to seek a rate increase and increase efforts to connect with rate payers in their communities.