AARP wants to solve JCP&L, Verizon issues
On Wednesday, the group asked for new BPU President Richard Mroz to address Jersey Central Power & Light's proposed rate increase, as well as phone companies' abandonment of traditional landlines.
Issues over landlines stem from Verizon introducing Voice Link, a wireless system that connects a home without the need for a copper landline. In New Jersey, the service was initially introduced in Mantoloking after Superstorm Sandy ravaged the borough's infrastructure.
One of AARP's biggest concerns is that the wireless systems fall short in terms of quality and reliability.
"It's not compatible with home security systems, it's not compatible with medical alert systems," said Jeff Abramo, communications director for AARP. "It's not as reliable. If power goes out, it has a very short battery life."
In an AARP poll of New Jersey residents age 50 and older, nearly 80 percent think it's important for companies to provide a landline service until a comparable alternative is available.
Abramo said Sandy showed the importance of landlines in emergency situations.
"If you had a landline phone during Sandy and it worked, I do not see you getting rid of it given how unreliable Internet-based phones and cellphones were," he said.
AARP is also asking the BPU to review JCP&L's rates, which they believe are too high. Abramo said the power company was found to have been overearning by $200 million.
"The fact is, if ratepayers are entitled to a $200 million rate decrease, in some ways it borders on absurd that we're going to be giving them an increase at the same time," he said.
JCP&L has requested a rate increase with the BPU in response to costs incurred after Superstorm Sandy.
"Let's rule on the decrease, let's figure how much people deserve to get back," Abramo said. "Then we can look if an increase is warranted for subsequent issues."
In an emailed statement, the BPU said JCP&L's base rate case is moving through the legal process.
"On Sept. 26, the administrative law judge in the case requested a second 45-day extension to render a decision, and the chief administrative law judge granted that request," the statement said. "The initial decision is now due Nov. 1."