A pair of Assembly members plans to submit more than 1,500 signatures they gathered in opposition to a Jersey Central Power and Light rate increase request.

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The legislators are from Monmouth County, one of the areas hardest hit by Superstorm Sandy. Thousands of residents were without power for more than a week.

“We will speak for the hundreds of ratepayers who are tired of paying more for less service,” said Assemblywoman Amy Handlin. “This proposal to take about $85 more per year from hard-working families lacks credibility because JCP&L has yet to answer very serious charges of pocketing corporate profit instead of investing in the improvements that would have made our service more reliable and our rates more tolerable.”

JCP&L is asking for approval for a 4.5 percent increase, roughly $85 more per year for the average ratepayer, to repair damage caused by Hurricanes Irene and Sandy. Handlin, Assemblywoman Caroline Casagrande and hundreds of their constituents, object to the proposal because of an unanswered allegation from a nonpartisan government watchdog that JCP&L collected more profit than legally allowed from New Jersey ratepayers while allowing its infrastructure to deteriorate.

“After JCP&L literally left our communities in the dark and sent New Jersey ratepayers’ money to its parent company in Ohio, the utility is back with hands in our pockets,” explained Casagrande. “We will make the case for thousands of hard-working families and businesses that JCP&L should not see one penny more from New Jersey ratepayers until it returns every dollar it pocketed for corporate greed.”

Two public hearings are scheduled for 1:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. on April 24 at the Freehold Township Municipal Building.