Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Pse&g Home Electric Bills Expected to Rise

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Pse&g Home Electric Bills Expected to Rise

Article excerpt

North Jersey electricity customers will see a mix of slightly higher or lower bills in June -- depending on their utility company - - because of changes in energy prices approved on Wednesday by state regulators.

The approval by the Board of Public Utilities, after an annual auction aimed at securing energy supplies for the state, will lead to a 1.1 percent increase in the average bill for residential customers of Public Service Electric and Gas, which serves most of Bergen and Passaic counties.

At the same time, the average residential bill for the region's other power companies -- Rockland Electric and Jersey Central Power & Light -- will drop 0.7 percent and 1.7 percent, respectively.

The odd mix resulted from an auction that actually raised the prices, for the second year running, that all three North Jersey utility companies pay for energy that they transmit to customers but still allowed for reductions in retail bills for customers of two companies. The reason is that electricity prices are set in New Jersey in a way that is allowing users to still benefit from significant price drops in the cost of energy production that occurred from 2009 through 2012.

PSE&G's average bill will rise while others' won't mainly because of increased costs for transmitting power in PSE&G's northern and central regions, said BPU President Dianne Solomon.

"A mixed bag is a good way of characterizing it," said Stefanie Brand, director of the state Division of Rate Counsel, which advocates on behalf of consumers in utility matters. "We never want to see it going up." But, she added, the results show that the way the state set up the pricing system was working to "hedge against volatility."

In announcing the changes, Solomon said the auction produced "pretty stable results, so we are pretty happy with that."

Both Solomon and Brand declined to speculate on whether customers throughout the state would likely see across-the-board increases next year. …

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