Ratepayer advocate: Keep eye on profits utilities ship out-of-state

TRENTON – Ensuring a portion of utility companies’ profits are used to improve infrastructure should be another concern of officials moving forward post-superstorm Sandy, according to a ratepayer advocate.

Stephanie Brand testified before the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee Wednesday to tell lawmakers that officials should be concerned about how much of what a company earns in a given year is sent out of state.

Brand described how it was recently determined that for every $1.32 collected by one New Jersey utility, $1.08 left the state and went to the utility’s – Atlantic City Electric – parent company. Brand also testified that New Jersey utilities have received $1.3 billion in federal funding since 2009 as part of stimulus dollars, saying the onus is on officials to ensure that money is being spent in a way that best benefits customers.

“That money is already out there and we need to see how it was spent and whether or not we’re spending it in the right place,” she said, adding officials should investigate whether Atlantic City Electric and other companies are sending too much in profits out of the state.

Additionally, Brand explained that utility customers already pay a monthly fee to companies that are specifically there to be used in case of future mass outages. If there are no mass outages or disasters, companies can keep those profits, she said.

“We are spending money already on storm restoration,” she said. “We need to make sure that money is being spent appropriately.”

 

Ratepayer advocate: Keep eye on profits utilities ship out-of-state