| State of New Jersey
Department Of The Public Advocate
240 West State St.
P.O. Box 851
Trenton, NJ 08625-0851
Phone: (609) 826-5090 Fax: (609) 984-4747
|JON S. CORZINE
For Immediate Release:
February 07, 2008
|RONALD K. CHEN
STEFANIE A. BRAND
For Further Information
Rate Counsel Urges Consumer Awareness of Three
Telephone Deregulation Public Hearings
Higher phone rates could result under Verizon/ EMBARQ request for no rate reviews
Newark, N.J.— The Public Advocate’s Division of Rate Counsel Director Stefanie A. Brand today encouraged consumers to take the opportunity to comment on the request by Verizon NJ and EMBARQ Corp. to deregulate basic telephone service at three Board of Public Utility (BPU) public hearings scheduled for next week.
“I encourage ratepayers to participate in these very important public hearings,” said Brand. “If approved, deregulation will likely result in higher rates, a significant burden for those with low or fixed incomes who are struggling every day to pay for the bare basics of telephone service. This is your chance to be heard,” she said.
In January 2008, Rate Counsel opposed the 2007 request by Verizon NJ and EMBARQ to have their retail residential and business services declared “competitive.” Under state law, the BPU can deregulate a service if it finds sufficient competition in the market. Rate Counsel disputes the claim by Verizon that consumers have a real choice with respect to basic phone service, noting that these companies serve 83 percent of that market.
“Without regulation, there will be no Board of Public Utilities review of rates and services and consumers will pay the price,” said Brand.
Three public hearings to discuss the matter have been scheduled by the Board of Public Utilities at the following locations:
Monday, February 11, 2008, at 7:00 p.m.
Cumberland County College Luciano Conference Center
3322 College Drive
Vineland, New Jersey 08360
Wednesday, February 13, 2008, at 7:00 p.m.
Clinton Municipal Building
43 Leigh Street
Clinton, New Jersey 08809
Thursday, February 14, 2008, at 10:00 a.m.
Board of Public Utilities
8th Floor Hearing Room
Two Gateway Center
Newark, New Jersey 07102
Rate Counsel will participate in the hearings. For more information on the Board’s hearings, go to www.state.nj.bpu or call 800-624-0241. Members of the public can also send written comments to Kristi Izzo, Secretary of the Board, at Two Gateway Center, Newark, N.J. 07102. Written comments must be received by February 15, 2008. Comments should be identified with the heading I/M/O The Board’s Investigation regarding the Reclassification of Incumbent Local Exchange Carrier Services as Competitive, including the docket number TX0711083.
The Division of Rate Counsel is a division within the Department of the Public Advocate and represents the interests of consumers of electric, natural gas, water/sewer and telecommunications and cable TV service. Additional information on this and other utility matters can be found at the Division’s website at www.state.nj.us/publicadvocate/utility. The Department of the Public Advocate website is http://www.njpublicadvocate.gov.