TRENTON — Following months of community demand for closer scrutiny of PSE&G’s $3.9 billion “Energy Strong” program, the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities ordered the company to initiate a detailed investigation of parts of the proposal and to provide regular updates to the Board.
“The Board made the right decision,” said Kevin Brown, New Jersey State Director of 32BJ SEIU, which launched an online letter-writing campaign to persuade Board members to delay a decision on the program. “New Jerseyans already pay electric bills that are 35% higher than the national average, and there’s no guarantee that the program will produce significantly more reliable service. More questions need to be asked.”
PSE&G estimates that the upgrades would reduce storm outages only by 39%. Meanwhile, the company stands to reap an estimated 10.3% return on equity, funded by ratepayers who could see hikes of rate hike of $100.80 a year for residential customers and $714,000 for industrial customers.
Serious questions remain about PSE&G’s accountability In a 2010 settlement, PSE&G agreed to refund ratepayers $122 million for having overcharged them on what should have been an expired surcharge. PSE&G acknowledged this mistake in 2003 and refunded $197.6 million to customers, but an analysis by the Division of Rate Counsel showed that PSE&G still owed customers more money. In response, the company agreed to refund the additional $122 million.
Workers and ratepayers, who attended the meeting in protest, asked the Board to continue to scrutinize the Energy Strong program closely and hold PSE&G accountable for every extra dime it’s asking from ratepayers.
With 125,000 members in eight states and the District of Columbia, 32BJ SEIU is the largest property service workers union in the country.