TRENTON – A northern N.J. senator wants a utility’s rate hike request denied.
Sen. Kevin O’Toole (R-40) urged Board of Public Utilities President Robert Hanna to immediately deny JCP&L’s request to raise rates by nearly $31.5 million per year.
“The state’s second-largest utility has no shame,” O’Toole said. “Its parent company has raked in a $149 million increase in net income over last year, as the utility failed to adequately serve ratepayers in the aftermaths of Hurricane Irene and Sandy. Their application to suck more out of residents’ pockets is utterly offensive.”
O’Toole sent a letter to Hanna outlining his complaints.
O’Toole is a lead sponsor of the Storm Response Act of 2012 designed to significantly decrease or nullify the time residents are without utilities in the wake of natural disasters and emergencies, by holding utilities financially accountable.
Utility response to Sandy is the subject of Wednesday’s Senate Budget Committee hearing.
The text of the letter:
Dear President Hanna,
I write to you after reading an article in the Star-Ledger on November 30, 2012, that JCP&L has applied to the BPU for a rate increase.
This is an incredibly outrageous request and I ask that the BPU immediately deny it.
For JCP&L to apply for a rate increase after the poor performance they showed in the aftermaths of Hurricane Irene, the October 2011 snowstorm and now Hurricane Sandy, there are absolutely no grounds on which this request should have any merit. Taking aside the apparent lack of a coordinated plan to restore power to customers not just in District 40, but also throughout New Jersey, the reports of constant misinformation, lack of proper communication, and an overall apparent lack of preparation are grounds for denying this request.
It is reported in the same Star-Ledger article that JCP&L hopes to raise $31 million from this rate increase to pay for “infrastructure improvements.” Allow me to point out that JCP&L is a subsidiary of FirstEnergy Corporation of Ohio, and according to their press release on November 8, 2012 (enclosed), FirstEnergy reported a net income increase of $149 million for the first 9 months of 2012 versus 2011. Given the apparent healthy state of revenues for FirstEnergy, coupled with JCP&L’s poor performance during the aftermath of the past 3 storms, the costs of these improvements should be paid for by JCP&L and/or FirstEnergy not the residents of New Jersey.
The frustration and suffering that the residents of District 40 and New Jersey have experienced because they have the extreme misfortune of being JCP&L customers can not be ignored. To now tell them they must pay more to the same energy provider is patently unfair. As lawmakers, we must not allow utility companies – who fail to efficiently provide a service they are paid for, to continue to abuse the residents of New Jersey without repercussions. Approving this rate increase would effectively be discarding what the residents of our State have experienced. It is my hope and strong request that the BPU immediately deny this rate increase.
Should you have any additional questions, please feel free to contact my office.
Kevin J. O’Toole
Senator, District 40