Bill Forces BPU to Take Action, Give NJ Consumers Better Info
The New Jersey Senate has passed legislation that orders the state Board of Public Utilities to give consumers information about third party power suppliers – so they can figure out if these suppliers are legitimate and could actually save them money.
One bill requires the BPU to post information on its website about third party supplier electric and gas pricing. Meanwhile, a companion measure mandates the BPU to establish contract standers, so customers can understand, in plain English, what services they’re getting.
“This is a way for consumers to be able to shop to be able to see if they can get the best prices to provide power to their house from third party providers providers, understanding exactly what they’re buying," the bill's primary sponsor NJ Sen. Bob Singer said.
According to Singer, there are numerous legitimate third party power providers – that can sell you energy at a cheaper price than PSE&G or JCP&L, but many people don’t understand this.
“They think this is something that can’t be true,” he said. “People may be thinking, who are these people who are offering this to me and is this really legitimate or am I going to find some bogus company doing this and am I going to have a problem down the line?”
Singer also sad consumers may not understand if they pick a third party power supplier their current company - whether it’s JCP&L or PSE&G - will still provide the transmission lines coming into their house or apartment, only the actual power supplier will be different.
“If there’s a problem with the line, JCP&L or PSE&G would still respond and fix it, and because it’s at the website of the BPU, it kind of gives a little bit of assurance to the public that it’s legitimate," Singer said.
The senator also said discussions about this issue started more than a year ago, and the Board of Public Utilities indicated it would quickly get the information on its website, but the project stalled.
“Originally when we talked about this, the BPU assured us this was going to happen right away and be up and running - it hasn’t,” he said. “We’re kind of like the carrot and the stick. We’re saying okay, you want to take your time, consumers need this help now.”
He also said right now, gas and electric prices are down so this is not a big issue, but when prices increase, everyone will be looking for ways to save money, so the idea is to make it easier for consumers to do that.
A BPU spokesman said efforts have been underway to put the information on the web, but there have been problems with the state Office of Information Technology. However, now that the legislation has been passed, the BPU wants to make sure they include everything that’s legally required, assuming the measure is also passed by the NJ Assembly and signed by the governor.