From JCP&L’s Customers: if JCP&L/First Energy can't do better, WE NEED A CHANGE

Governor Phil Murphy, President Joseph Fiordaliso and the Commissioners of the NJ BPU, all members of NJ Assembly and Senate from JCP&L-served legislative districts

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Please sign this petition if you are a JCP&L customer and think ENOUGH IS ENOUGH. NJ Customers deserve better from the executives running JCP&L and its Ohio-based corporate parent First Energy. They should be maintaining our local lines a lot better to help minimize the loss of power to begin with, to communicate in real-time with specific information during power outages, and to gear up to restore power faster.

JCP&L’s captive customers have suffered for years! This cannot be allowed to continue. It is time for our lawmakers and regulators to rethink this constant problem and to act decisively. You can help by signing our petition urging them to consider revoking their franchise granted to JCP&L.

It’s time for a change!


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To: Governor Phil Murphy, President Joseph Fiordaliso and the Commissioners of the NJ BPU, all members of NJ Assembly and Senate from JCP&L-served legislative districts
From: [Your Name]

From JCP&L’s Customers: if JCP&L/First Energy can't do better, WE NEED A CHANGE

Isaias. Quinn. Riley. Sandy. Irene. How many chances have we as customers, and you as state leaders, regulators, and legislators, given JCP&L and their parent company First Energy to do right? When it comes to storm preparedness, communication, response, and distribution system modernization, we deserve better. The thousands of JCP&L linemen and the thousands of out-of-state electrical workers deserve our extreme thanks for coming to our rescue, leaving their families and stepping into harm's way to help us. But they, along with us, deserve better leadership and protection from JCP&L.

I am signing this petition because I want change. Better storm preparedness, better smart technology, better hardening of the distribution system, better vegetation management... all of this would lead to a more resilient and nimble power system, fewer outages, shorter restoration times, better communications with customers, minimized danger for workers, and less ratepayer money spent on emergency restoration efforts.

Storm after storm, the story has been the same... puppeteered by their dividend-driven, for-profit parent company First Energy out in Ohio, JCP&L has stood out as the laggard: we JCP&L customers are more likely to lose power, and communication and power restoration takes longer. JCP&L's track record shows that First Energy is far from customer-centric, and for years has prioritized trying to push through ROI-guaranteed (and sometimes unnecessary) transmission projects to please shareholders, instead of focusing on improving the distribution system (where 99%+ of outages are caused) to better serve us, their customers.

Ask any out-of-state emergency lineman who has come to NJ about JCP&L’s distribution equipment... "Antiquated." "Outdated." "In disrepair." "Obsolete." "Hard to fix because finding replacement parts takes longer." "Like nothing you see anywhere else." Our distribution system has suffered greatly while First Energy chased more profitable transmission projects instead, year after year. This greedy mismanagement has caught up with them, and we are the ones left in the dark.

As customers of JCP&L, we have no choice as to who provides our power. Unlike the typical model for a for-profit consumer service provider, power companies don't have to satisfy their customers to keep their business. We can't demonstrate our dissatisfaction by switching brands. We are stuck in this monopoly, and we need your help. We all deserve better for the money we are spending.

OUR ASK OF YOU: please find a way to help us. If the wrist-slaps aren't working, if you don't see actual evidence of improvement (not just promises), if you don't feel like we are getting our money's worth as ratepayers, please DO SOMETHING. Consider revoking JCP&L's franchise and inviting other power providers to submit a proposal to the state for this business.

It's time for the public to be a priority of our public utility.

ADDITIONAL READING:

It’s Time to Rethink Public Utilities!

August 9, 2020 - More than 1.4 million homes and businesses experienced a power outage in the wake of tropical storm Isaias. In particular, more than 50% of JCP&L’s 1.1 million customers lost power.

There have been public outcries after major storms due to widespread power outages. This happened after Hurricane Irene in 2011, superstorm Sandy in 2012, winter storms Quinn and Riley in 2018, and now tropical storm Isaias.
Not surprisingly, there are already calls by elected officials for a “post-mortem” and/or legislative action. The past responses have been investigations, public hearings and the introduction of bills that have languished in our legislature.
Also, not a surprise, JCP&L has borne the brunt of criticisms from mayors and other elected officials. The problems with their antiquated systems, storm preparedness, communications and response time are well documented in the media and public hearings.

In the past, JCP&L was awarded extra money by the NJ Board of Public Utilities as part of its rate case to improve reliability. A rate case settled in 2015 indicated that JCP&L may have “over-earned” between $500 million to $1 billion over a 10-year period. While the BPU ordered a rate reduction on a going-forward basis, JCP&L got to keep the $500 million to $1 billion, all at the expense of ratepayers and the continued lack of maintenance or improvement to their distribution system. It appears that after making some initial repairs, the extra money awarded went to dividends to its corporate parent, FirstEnergy Corporation in Ohio.

New Jersey and much of our nation operate under a business model whereby an essential public service (electrical power) is provided by for-profit companies that were granted a franchise to operate as a monopoly. This model has an inherent conflict of interest that benefits management and shareholders at the expense of captive customers who cannot switch their utility company.
History is replete with stories that for-profit utility companies have worked against public interest despite their mandates to operate otherwise. According to a recent federal criminal complaint, FirstEnergy was implicated in a $60 million bribery case that resulted in a $1.3 billion bailout for two of their nuclear plants.

One definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

Given the history, it seems clear that this business model with its inherent conflict of interest and the high costs to our society, which includes social and economic costs from power outages, can’t be the right model for an essential public service.
Past responses and measures have not shown to be effective. It is time for our New Jersey lawmakers to rethink this critical issue. Clearly, a paradigm shift is needed!

A good first step is to consider revoking JCP&L’s franchise. In California, some towns and counties proposed a co-op to replace PG&E, the utility company held to be responsible for the wildfire that destroyed Paradise. In parts of New Jersey, electricity is provided by a co-op owned by either a township or its customers.

Kin Gee
President
CHARGE - Consumers Helping Affect Regulation of Gas & Electric

Other articles:

NJ Spotlight: Bipartisan Critics Bash State’s Power Utilities

https://www.njspotlight.com/news/bipartisan-critics-bash-states-power-utilities/

Asbury Park Press: Power outage: $1B in JCP&L fixes didn't stop them, and NJ Rate Counsel wants to know why

https://www.app.com/story/money/business/consumer/2020/08/07/power-outages-isaias-jcpl-reliability-plus/3310140001/

Asbury Park Press: JCP&L wants to raise your electric bill 8.5% to pay for upgrades, storm repairs

https://www.app.com/story/money/business/consumer/2020/02/19/jcpl-electric-bill-upgrades-storm-repairs/4799664002/