April 24, 2019 – With much fanfare that included presentations to various elected officials and a local Holmdel Township meeting, JCP&L announced an ambitious 4-year $387 million improvements to the local distribution system in July 2018. Upon closer examination, it appears that much of of the proposed investments were for normal, routine maintenance and basic upkeep of the distribution system that should be performed by JCP&L when it was granted a franchise as a public utility. As a result, CHARGE spoke out against the proposal last November at the NJ Board of Public Utilities ("BPU") public hearing in Freehold. See link below for the text of our public comments.
On Tuesday, April 23rd, JCP&L announced that, as part of a settlement agreement with the NJ Division of Rate Counsel (“Rate Counsel”) and the NJ Large Energy Users Coalition (both are intervenors in the case), it has agreed to reduce the proposed investment from $387 million to $97 million. The reduced project now includes installation of: (1) new electronic fuses, (2) technology that can automatically detect damage on the system, and (3) flood mitigation measures and enhanced equipment to “harden” substation.
This settlement agreement is subject to approval by the BPU.
While CHARGE still has concerns about this petition, including the routine maintenance of the distribution system and how it will impact normal base rate filing, we agree with Stefanie Brand, Director of the Rate Counsel, that the settlement is “fair” since there are improvements and upgrades that we, as customers, would want JCP&L to make outside of the normal routine maintenance.
CHARGE hopes that these upgrades will get done along with the basic maintenance in the normal course of business.