Ocean County Press Release
BPU Asked to Deny Rate Hike for Utility Company

TOMS RIVER – Calling it a completely unreasonable $736 million repair bill, Ocean County Freeholder Director Joseph H. Vicari is urging the state Board of Public Utilities to deny a rate hike to JCP&L to cover costs incurred from Superstorm Sandy.

"Faced with rising rebuilding and insurance costs, the absolute last thing our Sandy-stricken communities need is a higher utility bill," stated Vicari in a letter to Dianne Solomon, President of the BPU. "The law requires the BPU to ensure safe, adequate, and proper utility services at reasonable rates for customers in New Jersey.

"This request from the utility company is unreasonable and I urge the BPU not to place another financial burden on our residents," said Vicari, a long time advocate for ratepayers who serves as chairman of Ocean County Consumer Affairs.

Vicari said that one year ago he asked the BPU to consider a three-year across the board moratorium on all utility rate hikes in communities impacted by Sandy.

"I still believe a rate freeze would help our still struggling home and business owners get back on their feet," Vicari said. "If anyone needs a break following Sandy, it is our residents, not the utility company.

"The BPU still has my request," he said.

Vicari noted that he was joining with other elected officials who witnessed the utility company's often slow response in restoring power to thousands of customers.

"Their customers suffered without power for days in Sandy's wake," Vicari said. "There is simply no justifiable reason while JCP&L should be allowed to pass its costs onto ratepayers in the form of a 4.5 percent increase.

"Our residents who have lost everything, in some cases, cannot pass their costs along," Vicari said. "JCP&L should not be allowed to do it either."

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