Van Drew bill: Empower budget committees to veto rate hikes

TRENTON – A senator wants legislative committees empowered to overturn rate increases approved by the Board of Public Utilities.

Sen. Jeff Van Drew, (D-1), Dennis Township, introduced a bill this week that would give the Senate and Assembly budget committees the authority to veto a rate increase.

Under S1802, any BPU-approved hike would not take effect for 90 days. BPU would have to provide to the committees a copy of the order within three business days that includes estimates of the effect on ratepayers, and a reason for the rate increase.

The budget panels could then hold a joint session within 90 days of the BPU adoption and veto the hike if they chose.

The bill has been referred to the Economic Growth Committee.

Van Drew could not be reached immediately for comment.

A BPU spokesman said the agency would have no comment.

Van Drew and fellow Southern N.J. lawmakers have been less than pleased with utilities lately. Specifically, they expressed support this week when BPU issued Verizon a show/cause order regarding the fact it had not completely provided broadband service to 100 percent of the service area in Cumberland County.

Van Drew bill: Empower budget committees to veto rate hikes