JCP&L wants rate hike to cover Hurricane Irene

JCP&L wants rate hike to cover Hurricane Irene

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Jersey Central Power & Light Company says it wants to raise electric bills by 1.2 percent to cover the costs after Hurricane Irene and the October snowstorm in 2011. 

JCP&L also stated on Friday that it will add in the costs of recovery from Superstorm Sandy at a later date. Sandy knocked out power to about 1.2 million customers, the worst power outage the utility has ever faced. 

Like many communities, people in Millburn NJ spent more than a week without power after Hurricane Sandy and some say when it came to communication from Jersey Central Power and Light they were also in the dark. 

"I'm not really happy with them right now," said Ben Wasserman a JCP&L customer.  

So when Wasserman found out JCPL now wants to hike rates, he was frustrated. 

"I think it's unconscionable that they're going to hit people in the town because of the storms, they make a lot of money." 

JCPL is asking the state to approve a $31 million dollar annual rate hike, which breaks down to a 1.4% monthly increase for the average residential customer. 

But that's just to cover costs related to Hurricane Irene and the last October snowstorm.

The bill for Sandy's damage is still being calculated and it will likely mean a higher rate hike. 

"Why are they charging us extra for storm damage, over 25 years they could have been building up savings, I don't think they should pass it on to us," said Joe Mansfield , JCP&L customer. 

The rate hike request was part of what's called a base rate case which was mandated by the State board of public utilities after JCP&L came under fire for poor performance in the wake of last year's storm and questions about the utility's earnings. 

In a statement to Fox 5, the utility company said:

 "Even with the proposed increase, JCP&L would continue to have the lowest residential electric rates among New Jersey electric distribution companies." 

They estimate customers who use an average of 650 kilowatts a month would only end up paying about a dollar fifty more on each bill. 

It's not a big deal, but they never really provide good service," said Barry Riesenberg, another frustrated JCP&L customer.

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