N.J. utility company seeks 8.5 percent rate increase to recoup storm damage costs, support enhancements

(Courtesy of Jo Anne Hall)

(Courtesy of Jo Anne Hall)

An electric utility company that serves more than a million customers in 13 New Jersey counties is seeking a customer rate increase to support service reliability enhancements and recoup costs following severe storms.

According to a filing with the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities, JCP&L wants an 8.5% overall rate increase for the average customer using 766 kilowatt hours per month. That’s a monthly increase of $8.73, according to the utility, which says customers would still continue to pay the lowest residential electric rates in the state.

JCP&L representatives say the company has invested $1 billion in capital projects since January 2016, including reinforcing electric infrastructure on the barrier islands, completing substation flood mitigation, deploying equipment that automatically transfers customers to adjacent circuits if an issue is detected and accelerating vegetation management work designed to reduce the frequency and duration of power outages.

Representatives from the company say the response to damage to four winter storms between 2018 and 2019 resulted in “accumulated unrecovered storm costs” that have grown to more than $300 million.

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“With more frequent severe weather events expected in the years ahead, we need to be prepared to deploy the resources necessary to restore service to customers as safely and quickly as possible,” said Jim Fakult, president of JCP&L, in a statement.

The rate increase is subject to New Jersey Board of Public Utilities’ approval. JCP&L serves approximately half of the Jersey Shore.

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