TRENTON, N.J. — New Jersey's second-largest utility company has been given tentative permission to raise customers' bills to pay the costs it incurred to restore power after Superstorm Sandy and three other major storms.
Under the deal announced Wednesday and reported by The Star-Ledger of Newark (http://bit.ly/N6CzTs), Jersey Central Power & Light is allowed to be reimbursed for the $736 million it spent on Sandy and Irene as well as an October 2011 snowstorm and a nor'easter in November 2012.
That cost will be passed along to customers by rates being raised 4.5 percent, or more than $53 per year per customer, according to the company's filing with the Board of Public Utilities last year.
The utilities board has not given final approval to the plan, which was reached between JCP&L, the state Division of Rate Counsel — the ratepayer advocate — and staff of the state Board of Public Utilities. The full board usually follows the recommendations of board staff and the Rate Counsel.
The storm cleanup required the cutting and clearing of tens of thousands of trees, the replacing of damaged utility poles and the laying of hundreds of miles of new wire, according to the utility.
The utility also overhauled much of its communication systems in the wake of Irene and Sandy, when it was criticized for its storm performance and for not communicating effectively with customers and state officials regarding power outages.
JCP&L serves about 1.1 million customers, mostly in northern and central New Jersey.