State of New Jersey
JON S. CORZINE
RONALD K. CHEN
Public Advocate Negotiates Balanced Utility Infrastructure Projects
Increased reliability, energy improvements help consumers and state’s economy
Newark, N.J.—Newark, N.J.— Public Advocate Ronald K. Chen today said he was pleased that the negotiated agreements between the Division of Rate Counsel, the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (BPU) Staff and five of the state’s gas and electric utility companies for capital investment energy infrastructure projects were approved today by the BPU.
“These agreements achieve the right balance of protecting ratepayers from significant increases while providing them with the reliability benefits of infrastructure improvements and an economic stimulus for New Jersey’s economy,” said Chen.
The agreements, which were negotiated by Rate Counsel and the other parties, resulted from the submissions of petitions to the BPU by seven utility companies. The companies responded to Governor Jon Corzine’s 2008 request to accelerate approximately $956.1 million in infrastructure programs in 2009 and 2010. Advancing public infrastructure projects is a key component of Governor Corzine’s Economic Assistance and Recovery Plan to encourage statewide job creation and long-term economic growth.
Proposals that were approved were for the following companies: PSE&G, New Jersey Natural Gas, Elizabethtown Gas, South Jersey Gas and Atlantic City Electric. The projects involve replacement and repair of aging gas pipes and mains; distribution system improvements, such as pole replacements; and the replacement of transformers and street lights with new, and in some instances, more energy-efficient, equipment.
“Rate Counsel reviewed each of the proposals to ensure that the projects are reasonable and that the rate impacts are minimal,” said Rate Counsel Director Stefanie A. Brand. “We wanted to ensure that the infrastructure investments would be incremental, create jobs, improve reliability and that there would be parameters established for a thorough examination of prudence and reasonableness in a rate case for each company.”
Brand said that the rate increases for the utility projects would amount to less than one percent and that the charges and expenditures will continue to be reviewed closely by Rate Counsel. She added that the projects could help create as many as 1,300 direct jobs, and could result in as many as 14,000 indirect jobs.
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 http://www.state.nj.us/rpa/. The Department of the Public Advocate website is http://www.njpublicadvocate.gov.