Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Jcp&l Request Angers Mayors

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Jcp&l Request Angers Mayors

Article excerpt

Officials in North Jersey reacted with dismay Saturday after learning that Jersey Central Power & Light will seek a 4.5 percent rate increase to help it recover the costs of restoring power in the wake of superstorm Sandy.

If approved, the rate hike would mean an annual increase of $53.28 on the utility bill for a typical JCP&L customer using 650 kilowatt hours per month.

JCP&L officials said the rate hike, filed Friday with the state Board of Public Utilities, incorporates an earlier request of a 1.5 percent increase filed in November for Hurricane Irene and the so- called Halloween snowstorm of October 2011.

Some mayors in Passaic County said they were unhappy to hear about the rate increase, given what they viewed as the utility's poor performance in restoring power to customers after Sandy.

West Milford Mayor Bettina Bieri said her town is one of several in the state that plans to file an objection with the Board of Public Utilities.

Bieri said JCP&L serves a relatively small portion of West Milford with about 1,700 metered homes out of about 11,000 households in the town.

Some of those residents, however, had the longest wait for power to be restored after Sandy, Bieri said.

"To get a rate hike while we see no improvement to their service ... we feel that's just a slap in the face to ratepayers," Bieri said.

Utility spokesman Ron Morano said New Jersey law allows JCP&L to seek to recover some of the costs incurred by natural disasters like Sandy. He said responding to Sandy cost the utility about $630 million. Included in the rate-increase request are about $345 million in capital costs.

They include items such as cutting and clearing 65,000 trees and replacing 6,700 utility poles. That's about 2 1/2 times the number of poles the utility normally replaces in a year, Morano said.

Other costs included repairing substations and replacing 19,200 utility-pole crossarms, 3,600 transformers and 400 miles of wire, Morano said. …

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