Tuesday, April 16, 2013
State agency will allow qualified organizations to assist utility customers in paying electric and gas bills.
The state is asking nonprofit groups to lend a hand distributing grants to low- and moderate-income New Jersey residents to help them pay their gas and electric bills. The program, one of several that aims to ensure utility customers retain their gas and electric service, has distributed between $800,000 and as much as $3 million over the past few years to homeowners and renters who have trouble paying their bills. Unlike other programs, this one makes one-time grants available to customers to avert the turning off of their electric and gas service. To be eligible to participate, applicants must have a history of paying their utility bills in a timely manner. The money for the program comes from unclaimed utility deposits by ratepayers. …
Saturday, March 30, 2013
Lucrative capacity payments key to financing new power plants, states argue before federal agency.
New Jersey and other states are caught up in a multiyear dispute with the agencies overseeing the electric power grid, battling to roll back new rules they say will prevent them from providing cheaper, more reliable power to residents and businesses. This is just the latest twist in an argument about spurring the development of new power plants in various jurisdictions, a step the states say could lower energy costs for customers saddled with some of the highest electric bills in the nation. The fight is being played out before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), the agency that reviews actions by the regional transmission companies that manage the high-voltage power lines crisscrossing the nation. These organizations largely …
Wednesday, March 27, 2013
To encourage and further public debate on this important issue, NJ Spotlight presents two opposing positions.
Wednesday, March 27
By Aaron Fischer [Aaron Fischer is director of editorial operations for NJ Spotlight.] PSE&G's proposed $4 billion filing to upgrade and enhance the resiliency of its power and natural gas grids has sparked off more than something of a stir among state officials, lawmakers, customers, and businesses across the state. The utility argues that its Energy Strong program is a response to the flaws and shortcomings in its distribution systems revealed by Hurricane Sandy. While the Board of Public Utilities does not disagree with the purpose or need for the program, it has asked for a detailed cost-benefit analysis of all of its components. The Division of Rate Counsel, meanwhile, has raised a flag that New Jersey consumers will end up bearing an…
Saturday, March 23, 2013
State wants specifics about proposed storm-related upgrades and protections before giving go-ahead.
The state wants Public Service Electric & Gas to spend ratepayer money to modernize its electric and gas systems, but is not ready to write a blank check allowing the utility to spend $4 billion over the next decade to cover those costs. During its monthly meeting in Trenton yesterday, the state Board of Public Utilities said it wants a lot more information about the spending program filed last month by the state’s largest utility before acting on the proposal. Instead, the BPU approved a couple of separate proceedings to examine how utilities will recover costs from Hurricane Sandy and other storms, as well as what is needed to enact other expensive measures to prevent outages caused by extreme weather in the future. Opponents of the PSE&…
Tuesday, March 12, 2013
Reliability and retirement of older power plants helping drive new transmission projects.
With many power plants being shut down because of tougher environmental regulations at the state and federal levels, the operator of the nation’s largest power grid is authorizing more than $2.4 billion in new transmission projects in the region, including many in New Jersey. The retirement of the power plants is not unexpected, given the more stringent rules to control emissions from older, more polluting plants. Also contributing to the phase-out: historically low natural-gas prices, which have made it tougher for coal plants to compete with the cheaper fuel. The upgrades, however, could modestly increase electric bills for consumers, who already pay some of the highest energy bills in the nation. The grid operator, PJM Interconnection, …
Monday, February 25, 2013
Price to restore essential services may top $1 billion, state agency weighs costs appropriate to pass on to customers.
The state is expected to initiate a proceeding to decide how utilities in New Jersey recover the enormous costs imposed by restoring essential services like electricity, gas, and water in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. The New Jersey Board of Utilities yesterday said it sought to establish an appropriate cost-recovery mechanism for expenses incurred by the utilities in responding to the superstorm. How it would work is uncertain, but the costs imposed by the storms are huge. Public Service & Electric Gas executives said they could run between $250 million and $300 million. Other utilities spent more than the state’s largest electric utility. Jersey Central Power & Light, the state’s second-biggest electric company with 1 million customers, …
Monday, February 4, 2013
Low prices for natural gas used to fuel power plants may help keep down rates.
For the past four years, consumers and many businesses in New Jersey have enjoyed a rare occurrence -- a drop in the price of the electricity delivered to their homes from power plants around the region. Might the trend continue? More will be known by the end of next week when the state Board of Public Utilities holds its annual online auction to purchase most of the electricity needed to power millions of New Jersey homes and businesses. The results of the annual auction play a big role in determining whether electricity prices fall or rise each June in a state saddled with some of the highest energy costs in the nation. But in the increasingly complex energy market, the auction is not the only factor: Transmission prices continue to rise…
Monday, December 3, 2012
Lesniak bill calls for stormproofed substations, widely deployed smart meters, to prevent the outages that followed Sandy.
Its most prominent proponent calls it the "Never Again Campaign", a curious choice of words given that one of the most trusted tenets in Trenton shared by lobbyists and politicians alike is: “Never say 'never.'’’ Nonetheless, the Legislature may soon move a bill that would require the state’s electric utilities to make significant improvements to the power grid in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, according to a veteran lawmaker. The bill's goal is to prevent the type of widespread outages in the wake of the storm, which left more than two million customers without power, some of which (on the state’s barrier islands) have yet to get their lights on. Sen. Raymond Lesniak (D-Union) said yesterday he hopes to introduce the bill early next month, …
Friday, September 14, 2012
Consultant tells BPU the steps utilities should take to restore power to customers far faster.
- LOCAL CONNECTIONS
- Tom Johnson
Friday, September 14, 2012
Warning that extreme weather is here to stay, state regulatory officials Wednesday began weighing steps that New Jersey electric utilities should take to improve response times when restoring power to customers. At a hearing in the Statehouse Annex, the Board of Public Utilities heard a consultant retained by the agencydetail some of the 143 recommendations made to deal with future major storms. Two unprecedented storms in 2011, which left nearly 3 million electric customers without power, triggered the investigation. Hurricane Irene landed in late August, leaving 1.9 million customers without power, the largest number of outages in New Jersey's history. The second, a rare snowstorm two days before Halloween, left some customers without …
Wednesday, June 6, 2012
In annual filings with the state BPU, utilities say customers could see savings of up to 5.2 percent.
Once again, this winter is shaping up to be a season where natural gas customers can expect to pay less or about the same to heat their homes. In annual filings with the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities, the state’s four gas utilities proposed cutting rates by as much as 5.2 percent beginning in October, the latest in a series of declines that have saved some customers as much as $674 since January 2009. The steep drop in natural gas prices has been spurred by increased production of natural gas in neighboring Pennsylvania and other areas, largely a result of the discovery of new supplies of the fuel in the Marcellus Shale formation in the Keystone state and elsewhere. With gas supplies plentiful and the weather milder than normal, …