Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Hearings Set on Rockland Rate Hike Plan

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Hearings Set on Rockland Rate Hike Plan

Article excerpt

A proposal to raise electricity rates an average of 11.5 percent in 22 northern Bergen and Passaic county municipalities is scheduled to go before the public for comment on Wednesday in Mahwah.

Two hearings, at 3:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. in Mahwah Township Hall, will cover a request by Rockland Electric Co. for permission from state regulators to raise rates that would increase monthly bills from $164 to $183 for the typical customer using 925 kilowatt-hours of electricity a month.

The rate hike request, up from an average of 9.7 percent when the proposal was filed in November with the state Board of Public Utilities, affects about 72,000 customers in all or parts of 20 Bergen municipalities and two in Passaic, as well as three in Sussex County.

The company says it wants to raise rates partly to recoup $8 million spent on repairs after major storms in 2011 and 2012, and to cover $3.2 million to help pay for upgrades aimed at curtailing future outages. Those improvements include a four-year equipment renovation project designed to improve service to 7,750 customers in five Bergen County municipalities on or near the state border with New York.

The work will mainly be done in Old Tappan, affecting customers there and in Northvale, Norwood, Harrington Park and Rockleigh.

The proposed rate hike is larger than first planned because of increases in tree-trimming planned in the future around power lines and rising expenses for equipment depreciation and income taxes, said company spokesman Mike Donovan.

Rockland Electric last received an increase for its New Jersey coverage area in 2010, when the average residential rate rose 3.7 percent, although bills have actually decreased since then because of declines in the cost of energy. Utilities must get BPU approval for rate increases, and the companies generally seek them every three to five years to pay for rising expenses. …

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