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PSEG Rate Case Hearings Soon

Date : Wed, Aug 7, 2013 at 1:57 PM


For Immediate Release

August 7, 2013

Contact: Jeff Tittel, Director, NJ Sierra Club, 609-558-9100

PSEG Rate Case Hearings Soon

Hearings for the PSEG Energy Strong rate increases will be starting soon and Sierra Club will be active in the proceedings. Sierra Club was granted participant status but we will be appealing for intervenor status. The environmental groups' members are rate payers and both organizations have a history of working on energy issues in New Jersey, especially the promotion of clean energy, energy efficiency, demand response, distributive generation and smart grid technologies. Demand response and efficiency are key to make our grid more resilient for future storms and complement grid hardening efforts.

"It is not enough to be energy strong we have to be smarter and better. The Sierra Club is going to actively participate in this rate case because it is too important for the future of New Jersey's energy supply. We can fix our electrical supply system to move us into the 21st century and be resilient," said Jeff Tittel, Director, NJ Sierra Club. "We are going to appeal only being declared a participant and will seek intervenor status."

The BPU rejected our first request for intervenor status because they said our members were ratepayers and represented by the Rate Counsel. However AARP was allowed to participate as an intervenor and they are a membership group as well. Additional the environmental groups have been more active in energy issues before the board and have expertise in the area.

"We are not only a membership group, we have been an energy advocacy group before the BPU many times from rate cases to energy policy," said Jeff Tittel.

Environmental groups have previously intervened before the BPU. Sierra Club and New Jersey Environmental Federation were among the groups opposing the approval of the Susquehanna-Roseland line in front of the BPU and where granted intervenor status for that proceeding despite opposition by PSEG.

Sierra Club and New Jersey Environmental Federation are two of the largest environmental groups in the state with about 150,000 members. Both groups have worked on energy issues for decades.

"This rate case impacts our members as well as the work we have been doing at the BPU on energy issues," said Jeff Tittel.

We are troubled that there is money available from FEMA to elevate vulnerable infrastructure and the utilities are not applying for that funding. Also under the HUD Community Development Block Grant funding there is money available to harden and elevate infrastructure and again the utilities have not applied for that funding. In New York utilities are requesting that funding.

"The utilities always want to do improvements on the backs of the rate payers instead of looking at other sources. With all this federal money available it would then free up money for energy efficiency, conservation, smart grid, and demand response that would make us even more resilient," said Jeff Tittel.

Investing in energy efficiency will not only save energy resources but save money and better prepare us for the next storm. Energy efficiency can reduce the need for new expensive transmission lines, substations, and other distribution infrastructure, making the grid less vulnerable to falling trees and flooding. This would save ratepayer money and have less of an environmental impact on sensitive features such as wetlands and streams. Smart grid and distributed generation technology make the grid less vulnerable to circuit outages. Clean energy mitigates the impacts of future storms by reducing carbon pollution in our atmosphere, lessening the future impacts of climate change. Distributed generation can be tied to energy storage systems such as battery backup systems and renewable systems. Focusing only on physical protection does not address the broader problems with our energy delivery system, but reducing demand begins to work on those issues.

"PSEG say they believe in energy efficiency, demand response, and distributive generation, but they are still objecting to us joining the case. Either they are disingenuous about the policies or they are arrogant," said Jeff Tittel.

As part of the proceedings PSE&G is coming into the BPU to request $3.9 billion for improvements to the grid over the next 10 years as part of their Energy Strong program. The money would go towards projects such as relocating switching stations from flood zones and replacing low pressure gas lines in flood areas. 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.

The decisions the BPU makes in these rate cases will impact New Jersey's energy future. As the BPU considers the costs of improvements to the grid from a number of recent storms, they will be deciding if we continue to depend on old, dirty and dangerous energy sources and perpetuating the life of these sources, or whether it will instead be encouraging energy efficiency and the growth of renewable sources. The Sierra Club is intervening in the case to support the use and further development of distributed generation, increasing the use of demand-side management technologies, implementation of "Smart Grid" networks, and other energy efficiency programs.

The BPU should be holding utilities 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. 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.

"We the rate payers are paying for the utilities' past mistakes. Had they invested more in renewable energy, efficiency, and smart grid we would not have had the outages and problems we had. This is our chance to fix the problems and mistakes of the past to grow our economy and give us a brighter clean energy future in New Jersey," said Jeff Tittel.

The pre-hearing order can be accessed here: http://www.state.nj.us/bpu/pdf/announcements/2013/20130802_Prehearing_order.pdf

Public Hearing Schedule:

2 sessions will be held at each location at 3:30 pm and 6:30 pm

September 16th in Newark

September 19th in New Brunswick

October 7th in Cherry Hill

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