Say no to higher electric rates. Take action here to sign our petition to end the nuke tax. For more information, please read below.
Don’t Let New Jersey Raise Your Electric Rates Again
The New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (BPU) is considering another nearly $1 billion nuclear tax on the state’s electric customers to prop up aging nuclear power plants. Last year, the BPU imposed a $300 million annual tax (also labeled a zero emission certificate on your bill) on every electricity customer in New Jersey for three years to increase the profits of PSEG and Exelon, the two large energy corporations that own New Jersey’s nuclear plants. Yet PSEG and Exelon are very profitable companies, each reporting more than $500 million in earnings in the last quarter.
And now, as many New Jerseyans and small businesses are struggling just to get by during the COVID-19 pandemic, PSEG and Exelon want customers to hand over their hard-earned money and pay more —again — for another three years.
2019 Nuke Tax Boosted Utility Profits
PSEG owns the Hope Creek nuclear plant and, along with Exelon, owns the Salem 1 and Salem 2 nuclear power plants, which have been operating for more than 30 years. The companies threatened to close the plants and eliminate jobs last year unless every electric customer in New Jersey—regardless of whether you were a PSEG customer or not—paid more. The BPU imposed the Nuke Tax after a closed-door proceeding in 2019 despite findings from four separate independent reviewers that determined these plants were already profitable.
Even the BPU’s own staff determined the companies failed to show a need for financial assistance to keep the plants running, and recommended the Commissioners reject the tax. BPU Commissioner Upendra Chivukula, who voted against the Nuke Tax, said the corporate subsidy is “highway robbery” perpetrated by “one of the most powerful companies in New Jersey” and is an “undue burden on the ratepayers of the State.” And Commissioner Robert Gordon stated, “In my view, the Board is being directed to pay ransom and the hostages are the citizens of New Jersey.”
Yet the BPU approved the tax. As the agency charged with regulating New Jersey’s utility industry and protecting consumers against price gouging, the BPU has a responsibility to ensure the prices we pay are just and reasonable. They failed to do so in 2019. While customers shell out money for this tax month after month, the decision has been appealed and we are awaiting a court decision.
Utilities Come Back for Even More
Now, PSEG and Exelon are back again. In the middle of the health and economic crises caused by COVID-19, PSEG is asking for yet another round of annual $300 million subsidies from every New Jersey residential and business electric customer for another three years. Meanwhile, New Jersey’s economy has been slammed, over 1.8 million New Jerseyans have filed for unemployment since March, and hundreds of thousands of New Jersey families and businesses could be at risk of losing their electric service because they cannot afford their bills during the economic havoc of the pandemic.
As in 2019, the BPU will consider the utilities’ request without the benefit of public scrutiny through traditional public hearings where the companies’ claims can be tested and the evidence scrutinized through cross-examination by experts for customer representatives and other stakeholders.
AARP, other consumer advocates, the New Jersey Division of Rate Counsel, commercial and industrial ratepayers, and environmental groups oppose this corporate giveaway.
AARP is not against nuclear power, but we are against deals that are cut behind closed doors and leave utility customers and taxpayers holding the bag.
Take action to end the nuclear tax. Once was bad enough. Don’t let the BPU make a costly decision twice.