Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Wayne DeAngelo, Tim Eustace, Vince Mazzeo, Eliana Pintor Marin and Daniel Benson to provide consumers with online price comparison information for various energy companies recently gained final legislative approval from the Assembly. It now heads to the governor’s desk.
The legislation is a response to testimony the Assembly Telecommunications and Utilities Committee received from consumer utilities advocates and utilities partners on the need for regulation of third-party providers.
“The deregulated market leveled the playing field for third-party competitors and gave consumers the opportunity to shop around for the best rate,” said DeAngelo (D-Mercer/Middlesex), chair of the Assembly Telecommunications and Utilities Committee. “However, it also has raised concerns for many regarding regulation. This legislation will begin to strengthen consumer protection for residents who choose a third party electric power or gas service as their energy provider.”
Under the bill (A-3849), the Board of Public Utilities (BPU) would require each electric public utility, electric power supplier, gas public utility, gas supplier, marketer, government aggregator and broker engaged in supplying energy to consumers to provide the board with adequate and accurate price comparison information, including projected price comparison information. The legislation would enable consumers to make informed choices about how they purchase energy.
The bill also would require the BPU, in consultation with energy suppliers, to compile the information into a single, understandable online database that enables customers to compare prices and services.
“Consumers currently are navigating an unregulated third party utilities market,” said Eustace (D-Bergen/Passaic). “There needs to be more transparency in the process. We want consumers to be able to make informed choices.”
“Consumers, especially seniors, ought to have the opportunity to choose utility companies that provide them with quality service at a rate they can afford,” said Mazzeo (D-Atlantic). “This legislation will help protect New Jersey’s ratepayers from unreasonable rate increases.”
“By providing ratepayers with clear price comparison information, this legislation will go a long way toward increasing consumer protection,” said Pintor Marin (D-Essex).
“Consumers who switch utility companies often are looking to save money, but unfortunately, they later realize that it may end up costing them significantly more over the long run,” said Benson (D-Mercer/Middlesex). “This legislation will make it easier for customers to understand from the start how much they will be charged for energy usage.”
The bill, which gained unanimous approval from both houses of the legislature, now goes to the governor.