Natural disasters should not be used to push for higher rates, higher profits. and projects with little benefits for consumers  including (not necessarily) smart meters 

Tomorrow, Wednesday, December 5th, AARP  New Jersey will be hosting the first in a series of  live TeleTown Halls on affordable utility rates and the current requests by NJ utility companies to raise rates by approximately $1 billion – and that’s before taking into account  Superstorm Sandy. Senator Linda R. Greenstein (D-14)  and Stefanie A. Brand, Esq., Director of the NJ Division of Rate Counsel will be participating in this live call-in event.  Discussion will include the current request by JCP&L to increase rates and as well as what needs to be done to improve reliability and ensure quality service from the state’s utilities. 

“AARP’s mission is to protect affordable and reliable utilities not only for our 50+ membership but all NJ consumers. For this important discussion tomorrow, we will be dialing out to approximately 100,000 homes in JCP&L’s coverage area,” said Douglas Johnston, AARP New Jersey Manager of Advocacy. “We want to make sure consumers are paying only rates that are fair and prudent, and pay only what is necessary to deliver high quality and reliable services.  In the wake of Sandy we are calling on the Board of Public Utilities to protect consumers against those who might use these natural disasters to foist unfair rate increases and unnecessary projects on consumers,” he added.  

Among the changes being considered is the implementation of computerized meters (often referred to as smart meters) that that can track power usage, as well as remotely detect outages in individual homes. Also being considered are enhanced grids known as smart grids, which use sensors to monitor the reliability and efficiency of the energy system, are also on the forefront of recent discussions. However, while both of these technological advancements have benefits, both come with hefty price tags, and it’s important that the bottom line cost to the average NJ consumer is taken into account when deciding whether these are changes worth making. 

WHAT:          AARP Affordable Utilities TeleTown Hall

WHEN:          Wednesday, December 5th, 2012, 9:30am ET

WHERE:       To listen in by phone, dial 877-229-8493 (pin code 13913)

AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization with a membership that helps people 50+ have independence, choice and control in ways that are beneficial and affordable to them and society as a whole. AARP does not endorse candidates for public office or make contributions to either political campaigns or candidates.