gloucestercitynews.net | March 13, 2019
Consumer, Environmental & Biz Groups Call on Regulators to Put the Needs of New Jersey & Ratepayers First….Not Energy Corporations
(TRENTON, NJ) – Today, a large group of AARP Advocacy Volunteers, Utility Watchdogs and Allies delivered 23,000 postcard petitions from AARP members throughout the Garden State to the NJ Board of Public Utilities (BPU) and Governor Phil Murphy calling for fair and affordable utility rates. The petitions are in response to at least $12 billion in proposed rate hikes before the BPU and state legislature.
“New Jersey families are strapped with some of America’s highest utility costs – paying, on average, hundreds of dollars a month for the utility services we all need for basic health and safety,” said Evelyn Liebman, AARP NJ Director of Advocacy. “Consumers – particularly those living on low and fixed incomes – simply can’t afford to foot $12 billion in rate hikes. These 23,000 residents want Governor Murphy and the BPU to put consumers first – not the interests of energy corporations. They’re calling on our state leaders to be responsible stewards of our hard-earned dollars and ensure that utility prices are affordable, fair and reasonable.”
“New Jersey’s small business owners cannot continue to be asked to subsidize large corporations who are being given an advantage,” said Tony Sandkamp, owner of Sandkamp Woodworks in Jersey City. “Increasing utility rates for small business owners as well as working families is going to have a negative impact. If we want to see our state economy blossom, we should not pursue or encourage trickle-down economics which have never been a good policy move.”
The proposed $12 billion in rate hikes will drive up costs for consumers, businesses and the economy as a whole, including:
- $6.6 BILLION MORE for PSE&G’s proposed rate hikes;
- $900 MILLION MORE for a “nuclear tax” that would be charged to every electric customer in New Jersey;
- $387 MILLION MORE for JCP&L’s proposed rate hike;
- $460 MILLION MORE for ACE’s proposed rate hikes;
- $1 BILLION MORE for proposed legislation (S2252) that would require ratepayers to subsidize the electric vehicle market;
- $2.5 BILLION MORE for costs associated with a new clean energy law;
- $500 MILLION MORE for Elizabethtown Gas’ proposed rate hike;
- And just a few weeks ago New Jersey Natural Gas filled for $500 MILLION MORE.
“The BPU needs to do its job and not rubber-stamp PSEG’s nuclear subsidies,” said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. PSEG does not need the money. The plants are already operating at a profit. All this subsidy does is rip off the ratepayers while undercutting New Jersey’s ability to reach 100 percent renewable energy. BPU should not be the Board of Promoting Utilities. It needs to put a stop on this blank check for massive subsidies for PSEG. This is $300 million a year that could go on forever. There is no sunset clause. This would be the biggest corporate subsidy in New Jersey history. We should be investing that money in offshore wind and solar that will help create jobs, protect the environment and reduce greenhouse gases.”
“Nearly 40% of New Jersey residents are struggling to make ends meet in our high cost state, including affording their utilities,” said Renee Koubiadis, Executive Director of the Anti-Poverty Network of New Jersey. “This means they are balancing on a cliff trying to figure out how to pay for all of their basic needs on incomes that are too low. A fee hike in utilities could be just the thing that pushes them deeper into poverty or possibly homelessness. We need to ensure that utility rates remain fair and affordable for the nearly 2 out of 5 state residents who cannot afford any increases in their already high daily costs.”
“We need to invest ratepayer money wisely to build a sustainable energy future. Subsidizing profitable nuclear plants is an awful use of ratepayers dollars,” said Doug O’Malley, director of Environment New Jersey. “A year after the battle over nuclear subsidies, PSEG continues to engage in pitched rhetoric demanding the BPU grant a full $300 million payout. Especially after utilities have said bailout money can be funneled to out-of-state nuclear plants, it is even more imperative that BPU make a decision that puts ratepayers first. The BPU decision-making process is not a rubber stamp and it’s clear that PSEG is starting to get nervous.”
AARP is the nation’s largest nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to empowering Americans 50 and older to choose how they live as they age. With nearly 38 million members and offices in every state, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, AARP works to strengthen communities and advocate for what matters most to families with a focus on health security, financial stability and personal fulfillment. AARP also works for individuals in the marketplace by sparking new solutions and allowing carefully chosen, high-quality products and services to carry the AARP name. As a trusted source for news and information, AARP produces the world’s largest circulation publications, AARP the Magazine and AARP Bulletin. To learn more, visit www.aarp.org or follow @AARP and @AARPadvocates on social media.