The Times, Trenton

Energy Strong Proposal Keeps Ratepayers In The Dark

The Times of Trenton — Sunday, December 15, 2013

Letter To The Editor

The many municipalities and counties who support it should reconsider PSE&G's $4 billion grid-strengthening, 10-year Energy Strong proposal, which lacks critical information on how PSE&G plans to spend this money to make the electric grid more resilient.

I do not minimize the importance of continuous, reliable electric service and the need for a utility infrastructure capable of reasonably withstanding extreme weather events, but I believe that these extreme weather events are providing a convenient pretext for opportunistic utility spending that could result in windfalls to utilities and unwarranted, long-term financial burdens to ratepayers.

While local officials are doing their best to lower property taxes, by endorsing Energy Strong without giving it sufficient scrutiny, they are supporting higher PSE&G electric bills. Energy Strong is simply a blank check for PSE&G to spend ratepayers' money as it wishes with no set benchmarks to analyze performance. If the state were to approve PSE&G's $4 billion request, even PSE&G acknowledges that most New Jerseyans will continue to have outage problems when the next storm hits.

You know something is objectionable when the Chemistry Council of New Jersey is joined by the NJ Sierra Club, AARP NJ, NJ Citizen Action, NJ Public Interest Research Group and NJ Large Energy Users Coalition to form the NJ Coalition for Affordable Power to oppose the $4 billion PSE&G proposal ("Groups team up to fight PSE&G's 4B plan; Dec. 1).

I agree with PSE&G that keeping the lights on in our towns and counties is important. So why is it waiting to implement the plan? There is nothing preventing PSE&G from making these energy investments now. I believe it simply won't without first getting the financial regulatory giveaways that will benefit PSE&G shareholders at ratepayers' expense.

— Hal Bozarth,
The writer is executive director of the Chemistry Council of New Jersey.

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