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JCP&L to Raise Rates for Sandy Restoration – Why Should We Pay? [POLL]

Dan Alexander, Townsquare Media NJ
Dan Alexander, Townsquare Media NJ

With memories of Hurricane Sandy still fresh in our minds – living in the dark and cold for what seemed to be weeks, now the bill comes due.
And guess who’s paying.

If you said JCP&L, go to the corner and put on the pointy hat.

While we were being told by out-of-state crews that equipment used by JCP&L was severely outdated, much of the blame had to be laid at the feet of the utility and its parent company, First Energy, for not updating transmission equipment – yet still reaping in record profits.

So now we come to find out that executives at the utility, with an agreement by staff members of the Board of Public Utilities have announced that the utility will look to raise $736 million dollars from customers for damages incurred during the storm and the repairs needed to get customers back on line.

Shouldn’t that be the responsibility of the shareholders?

According to this:

Jersey Central Power & Light Co. customers are on the cusp of having to pay the utility’s costs to rebuild its destroyed poles, wires and equipment and restore power after superstorm Sandy and three major storms in 2011 and 2012.

The staff of the Board of Public Utilities, the state Division of Rate Counsel and executives at JCP&L have reached an agreement that would allow JCP&L to raise an additional $736 million from customers. The deal must still be approved by the state Board of Public Utilities.

When it initially filed with the BPU last year, the company said rates would need to go up 4.5 percent, or about $4.44 per month for the average residential customer.

The settlement, filed Monday with the BPU, wraps up all the costs associated with Hurricane Irene and an October snowstorm in 2011, and 2012’s superstorm Sandy and a nor’easter that dumped snow on the region afterwards.

The damage in Monmouth and Ocean counties, where more than 469,000 customers lost power, was among the most severe in New Jersey.

More than a week later, another 100,000 lost power when a nor’easter dumped heavy snow on the area.

The restoration efforts were the biggest in JCP&L’s history. At its height, the company said about 13,000 people were working to get the lights back on, including about 8,500 linemen, a number augmented by crews from utilities in 17 states as far away as California.

Other costs include cutting and clearing about 65,000 trees and replacing 6,700 utility poles, 19,200 crossarms, 3,600 transformers and 400 miles of wire.

“The stipulation of settlement agreement is a significant step on recovering the hundreds of millions of dollars that JCP&L spent to restore customers to service as quickly and safely as possible following the devastating storms that impacted NJ in 2011 and 2012,” JCP&L spokesman Ron Morano said in a statement.

“Recovery of these costs is allowed under NJ law and is important to JCP&L s ability to operate and maintain its infrastructure.”

Read the last line again and you’ll get an idea pretty much of who’s screwing you:

Recovery of these costs is allowed under NJ law and is important to JCP&L s ability to operate and maintain its infrastructure.”

So, it’s not the company nor its shareholders who bear the cost of the deferred maintenance, outdated equipment, and all else that led to one of the biggest power blackouts New Jersey’s ever seen.

Nope – it’s you and me.

Feeling a little screwed yet? Go thank members of the BPU and legislators that passed that into law.

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