Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Will New Jersey Residents See an Increase in Rates After Hurricane Sandy?

Although it has been nearly four months since Hurricane Sandy struck the East Coast, the after affects are still being felt. One of those after effects includes a rate hike for electric services, something citizens and public officials both object to. 

Jersey Central Power & Light announced that it plans to implement a 4.5 percent rate increase in order to make up for the lost revenue from the power restoration from Hurricane Sandy. The rate increase would amount to approximately $53 more per year for the average customer using 650 kilowatt hours per month.[1]

New Jersey public officials object to the rate increase, saying that the restoration of power for many residents was unacceptably slow. Several New Jersey Mayors plan on filing an official objection with the state Board of Public Utilities. According to Mayor Bettina Bieri, Mayor of West Milford, “To get a rate hike while we see no improvement to their service … we feel that’s just a slap in the face to ratepayers.”
Of the 2 million New Jersey residents left without power, approximately 1.1 million are customers of Jersey Central Power & Light. Full electrical power wasn’t restored to the state until the end of November 2012, nearly one month after the storm made landfall. 

New Jersey residents who were deprived of power had to improvise methods of keeping warm and fed. Some residents had to heat food on their back yard barbeques, while others had to walk to obliging homes whose power had been restored to shower and charge their cellular phones.  Babies that were not accustomed to sleeping under blankets had to sleep wearing layers and layers of pajamas. One resident reported using her car battery to charge her cellular phone.[2]

Jersey Central Power & Light reportedly replaced 6,700 utility poles and cut down 65,000 trees, more than twice the typical amount replaced on an annual basis. Additionally, the rate hike is meant to cover the expenses for the salaries and room and board for of all of the additional workers brought in from across the country.

The utility company also announced its plans to use $200 million to reinforce and expand the infrastructure.
JCP & L currently has the lowest residential rates of all four power companies operating in New Jersey. Nevertheless, in the post-hurricane economic climate, many residents will find the rate increase difficult to bear.

[1] Ensslin, John, C: JCP&L Rate-Hike Angers North Jersey Mayors  NorthJersey.com 2/23/2013 http://www.northjersey.com/news/JCPLratehike.html?page=all
[2] Gross, Doug; Le Trent, Sarah: Powerless in New Jersey Post Sandy 11/3/2013 CNN http://www.cnn.com/2012/11/02/living/sandy-new-jersey-color

1 comment:

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