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Legislators: JCP&L's Quest for Rate Hike May Be Over

State judge files brief recommending $200 million rate cut rather than proposed rate hike

State legislators said Thursday that Jersey Central Power & Light's request for a rate hike may be over – and a reduction in rates is now possible.

The electrical utility had asked state regulators last year for $31 million rate increase, but faced staunch opposition from elected officials who have consistently blasted FirstEnergy, JCP&L's parent company, for its response to Tropical Storm Irene and Hurricane Sandy's impacts on its service area.

On Wednesday, a state administrative law judge not only filed a brief rejecting the rate hike proposal, but called for the state Board of Public Utilities to reduce rates by $207 million – enough to reduce customers' electric bills by as much as one third.

"We opposed JCP&L's rate increase proposal on principle," said state Sen. James Holzapfel, a Republican who represents northern Ocean County. "There were serious charges from state regulators that the utility had been earning more than was permitted. At the same time, the utility had demonstrated serious failures in responding to hurricanes Irene and Sandy and numerous other storms. It was clear JCP&L was both charging customers too much and not investing in preventative maintenance and upgrades that would prevent outages. Given these inconsistencies, we continue to believe JCP&L doesn't deserve an extra cent of ratepayers' money."

"That would be a real victory for customers who have long believed that JCP&L has been intentionally ignoring New Jersey's needs to ship increased profits to their parent company in Ohio," said Assemblyman David Wolfe (R-Ocean).

Assemblyman Gregory P. McGuckin called JCP&L's 1.1 million customers statewide "abused" by FirstEnergy and said he was looking into "allegations of overcharging and shoddy maintenance by JCP&L since 2012."

A company spokesman told the Newark Star-Ledger that the company will file a reply to the judge's brief, saying the situation "is not over."

It will ultimately fall to the BPU to set energy rates for JCP&L's customers.
disgusted homeowner January 30, 2014 at 04:23 PM
During the tragic Hurricane Sandy crisis, if you had the opportunity to speak to any of the out of state utility workers here to help us, you would be shocked. So many stories and conversations about how our electrical grid and equipment here in Ocean county is so out of date, parts no longer available, poorly maintained and NEGLECTED by JCP&L. And they want an increase?? Disgraceful. They take OUR money and let the electrical grid fall apart. Substations and transformer sitting like time bombs. No maintenance or upgrades. They don't deserve 1 red cent from any of their rate payers. They should be dis-enfranchised and let another electric company take over this area.
Greg Satter January 30, 2014 at 06:04 PM
Way Overpaid
Silver dollar January 30, 2014 at 07:09 PM
After sandy I spoke to some line men from Penn, They said some of the items they had to repair were so old that they only read about them and never saw them before . O If the truth was only told. It"s all about the money.

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