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State Senators Continue to Fight JCP&L Rate Hike

Officials want the state to not allow the state Board of Public Utilities to approve $31 million rate hike.

State Senator Kevin O'Toole / Patch file photo
State Senator Kevin O'Toole / Patch file photo

Legislators continue to fight against a proposed $31 million rate hike by Jersey Central Power & Light (JCP&L).

Customers’ utility bills would increase 1.4 percent, or $1.51 each month they would use 650-kilowatt hours of electricity if the rate increase is approved.

Wayne residents and officials blasted the power company online and at public meetings in the months following Super storm Sandy. They blamed JCP&L slow response times, aging infrastructure, and outdated equipment as the reasons why some of them were without power for nearly two weeks.

JCP&L provides power to 3,000 Wayne residents.

Mayor Chris Vergano asked the state Board of Public Utilities (BPU) to revoke JCP&L’s license to sell power in town. The BPU is a state agency authorized to oversee regulated utilities, which provide critical services such as natural gas, electricity, water, telecommunications and cable television.

State Sens. Kevin O’Toole (R-District 40) and Joe Pennacchio (R-District 26) have criticized the rate hike and JCP&L. They wrote letters to BPU President Robert Hanna urging the agency to deny JCP&L’s request.

 “JCP&L should be held accountable for its failings — not bailed out on the backs of those most affected by the utility’s shortcomings,” Pennacchio said in his letter. “There’s an expectation that rates paid by consumers will be wisely used to provide adequate service and sound infrastructure.”

According to O’Toole, JCP&L “raked in more than a $1 billion from 2011 to 2012 while the utility failed its customers here time after time.”

O'Toole and Pennacchio are sponsoring legislation that would hold utility companies accountable for their response times during emergencies.

The proposed rate hike is still before Administrative Law Judge Richard McGill.

Earl Pierce, a spokesman for the BPU, said he could not comment on when the Board may consider the matter.

— Have a question or news tip? Contact editor Daniel Hubbard at Daniel.Hubbard@patch.com or find us on Facebook and Twitter. For news straight to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.

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