Rooney bill requiring public hearings for utility rate hikes

TRENTON, N.J. – The Assembly Telecommunications and Utilities Committee on Thursday released a bill that requires public utilities that are requesting rate hikes to hold public hearings in every county impacted by that increase.
That bill (A184), sponsored by Assemblyman Kevin J. Rooney, now goes to the speaker for further consideration.
“Residents who are likely facing a utility rate increase should have convenient access to these public hearings,” Rooney (R-Bergen) said. “
The law currently stipulates public utility boards must hold two public hearings in service areas, often spanning multiple counties, where they are seeking a rate increase. If passed, Rooney’s bill will not only require one meeting per county in the affected area, but that the meeting take place in a municipality in that county impacted by proposed hikes.

If more than one public meeting is held, the first meeting will be dedicated to hearing evidence for the requested rate adjustment, and the second open to public comment.

The New Jersey Board of Public Utilities or the New Jersey Office of Administrative Law are responsible for holding public hearings on rate hike proposals for natural gas, electricity, water, telecommunications, and cable television.

“Holding meetings in towns and counties directly affected by rate increases gives state regulators more opportunities to inform the public and receive feedback,” Rooney said. “It’s something the Legislature has been pushing for a long time.”