New Coalition Wants Fair Utility Rates
By Phil Gregory, WBGO News
Trenton. May 15, 2013
A new coalition of consumer and industrial organizations is urging New Jersey officials to examine $8 billion in rate increases sought by the state’s biggest utility companies.
AARP, New Jersey Citizen Action, and the Chemistry Council are among the groups uniting as the New Jersey Coalition for Affordable Power.
They’re calling for lawmakers and regulators to consider the impact of the proposed increases.
Steven Goldenberg is an attorney who represents large energy users. He says the proposals are unfriendly to ratepayers.
“Whether it’s a business that has high bills that makes it less competitive, that requires it to fire employees or to relocate to other states, or people who have to chose between paying a utility bill or buying medicine, we’re all affected by this.”
Marilyn Askin is the former president of AARP New Jersey. She says higher utility costs pose concerns for seniors who live on fixed incomes.
“We would ask that they dip into corporate profits and to maybe make their shareholders not receive as much in dividends than to look at us the bill payers as AMT machines.”
PSE&G spokesman Mike Jennings says the higher rates are needed to upgrade utility infrastructure following recent storms.
“Because these expenditures are beyond the normal reliability they’re not really mandated for us to do. So we wouldn’t have the assurance that we’d be able to recoup the money. We need to have that in order to make an investment.”