Jersey Central Power & Light Seeks to Boost Rates by $142 Million in 2017

Tom Johnson | April 29, 2016 | Energy & Environment
Utility’s typical residential customer would see monthly bills bumped by about $5.60, or 6 percent

Jersey Central Power & Light is seeking to raise rates for its more than 1 million customers once again, a proposal that could boost monthly bills by about $5.58 or roughly 6 percent for the typical residential customer.

The filing with the state Board of Public Utilities asks that the new rates be effective January 27, 2017. The agency ordered JCP&L to file a new rate request at the conclusion of its last case this past March.

In that case, the BPU ordered revenue for the state’s second-largest utility to be reduced by about $115 million, although it was largely offset by a simultaneous decision to allow the company to recoup $80.7 million annually from customers on money it spent to recover during Hurricane Sandy.

In seeking to boost rates, JCP&L said the additional $142 million in revenue would be used to pay for ongoing tree trimming; inspections of lines, poles, and substations; and maintenance for newly installed equipment.

“While JCP&L’s rates have remained stable and even declined over the past decade, the cost of providing reliable electric service has increased,’’ said Jim Fakult, president of the utility. “It’s our job to provide dependable electricity to our growing customer base for their homes, businesses, and communities, and this rate plan will to deliver on this commitment.’’

In the wake of Hurricane Sandy and other extreme weather, the BPU has ordered the state’s utilities to take steps to reduce extended power outages and to restore service more quickly. During Sandy, some customers were without power for up to two weeks.

Since 2012, JCP&L has invested more than $612 million in capital spending in service-related enhancement projects, and provided field staff with tablets and smart phones to support faster power restoration. The utility also has stepped up its tree-trimming operations to reduce outages caused by vegetation by more than 38 percent.

Last year, the utility, which is owned by Akron, OH-based First Energy Corp., spent $247 million to maintain its power grid, according to Ron Morano, a company spokesman. In recent years, repeated extended outages have irked state regulators, bringing closer scrutiny of its operations by regulators.