Feb. 24, 2021 - A few days ago, I wrote about the Texas Power Grid and the crisis that occurred in Texas where millions of Texans lost power and water in below-freezing temperatures. Now, four of the 16-member Board of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) including the Chairwoman and Vice-Chair have resigned amid criticism that some members live outside of Texas and aren’t affected by the power outages.
There are also news accounts of customers that have received electric bills that exceed the combined total for the past several years including one customer with a bill for over $16,000. The Wall Street Journal just published an article that for two decades, electric customers have paid more for electricity under the Texas deregulated environment than customers in traditional utilities – by about $28 billion more!
A bill (A108 in the current session) was introduced in the New Jersey Assembly in 2018 that allowed a political subdivision to revoke a utility’s franchise and to increase penalties to utilities from the current ridiculous fine of $100 per day to $25,000 per violation. There is currently no Senate version of the bill. Many residents have suffered from frequent power outages in Monmouth County, Ocean County, and other counties in New Jersey. Despite that, our state legislative representatives have not been advocating this bill.
I have previously written that the traditional business model where an essential public service (electricity) is provided by for-profit utility companies, typically under monopolistic franchise, is fraught with too many conflicts of interest that work against the public interest.
It’s time for New Jersey regulators and legislature to rethink utilities or, at the very least, pass laws that protect helpless customers!