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JCP&L Rate Increase Request Should Be Denied

Date : Tue, 16 Apr 2013 14:28:31 -0400

For Immediate Release
April 16, 2013 Contact: Jeff Tittel, Director, NJ Sierra Club, 609-558-9100

JCP&L Rate Increase Request Should Be Denied

JCP&L is currently requesting a 4.8% rate increase for improvements following Hurricane Sandy.It is over $345 million for Hurricane Sandy on top of $31 million from an earlier request.We need our utilities to undertake major updates like in the wake of all the extreme weather events we have experienced, but to fund them responsibly.In the days following Sandy we saw a major failure of our grid and utilities to handle the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.

"Instead of the rate payers giving more money to JCP&L, the company should be paying ratepayers for the loss of service, lost business opportunities, and discomfort.This request for a rate increase is like the survivors of the Titanic having to pay an additional fare to use the life boat," said Jeff Tittel, Director, NJ Sierra Club. "BPU needs to turn this rate increase down.They must be the Board of Protecting Us not of Promoting Utilities." Some families were left in the dark for two weeks following the storm.Over 2.5 million residents lost power following Hurricane Sandy and many families were in the dark for over two weeks.The BPU should be holding JCP&L accountable and requiring them to take steps to prevent that from happening again.The utilities failed to protect the power lines and electrical infrastructure in the first place and are now rebuilding key infrastructure in the same vulnerable areas.In this rate case we need the BPU to provide incentives for the utilities to better protect our grid instead of rewarding poor planning with guaranteed rates of return and rate hikes. After a storm when the utilities are fixing the power lines and infrastructure they should not be allowed to bill ratepayers at their 12% rate of return.Instead the work should be done at cost. JCP&L should not be allowed to come in and ask for rate increases after a storm because of additional costs or due to loss of revenue from people not buying power.Instead there should be compensation to rate payers and consumers for loss of food, appliances, and other property resulting during power outages.

"Much of this was brought on by their poor practices and failure to maintain their own lines and equipment.We should not be rewarding their poor planning with a rate increase.They could have been investing in these improvements here, instead the money was going to corporate offices in Chicago," said Jeff Tittel. "They can make 10-12% profit on this rate increase which is adding insult to injury." JCP&L should be required to implement better storm preparation plans.This should include replacing older and vulnerable lines and putting lines underground to prevent blackouts in the first place. During Hurricane Irene JCP&L said they were caught off guard and what happened there would never happen again.They were right, under Irene 60% of customers lost power but under Sandy it was closer to 90%.We opposed the takeover of Jersey Central by First Energy saying distance corporate owners would not care about people in New Jersey as they would in Illinois were they are based and that seems to be the case yet again.

"JCP&L has not invested in energy efficiency, distributed generation, renewable energy like solar and combined heat and power or anything to make the grid more resilient and prevent brown outs and black outs.Their bond holders should be paying for these improvements, not the ratepayers," said Jeff Tittel. "Every time the wind blows JCP&L stands for 'Jesus Christ Pray for Light'."

-- 
Kate Millsaps
Conservation Program Coordinator
NJ Chapter of the Sierra Club
609-656-7612
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Received on 2013-04-16 11:28:31

New Jersey Sierra Club, 145 West Hanover St., Trenton, NJ 08618, USA
tel: 609 656 7612, fax 609 656 7618
or email Nicole Dallara, Outreach Coordinator, at nicole.dallara@sierraclub.org

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