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Pennacchio and Oroho warn BPU of growing utility bill crisis

NEW JERSEY – Under a moratorium on late fees and service disconnects mandated by Governor Murphy, more than a half million residential customers have fallen behind on their utility bills and the number is growing every day.

Senator Joe Pennacchio and Senator Steven Oroho Thursday, in a letter to Board of Public Utilities President Joseph Fiordaliso, urged BPU to take pre-emptive measures to address a potentially dire problem.

“There is more than $354 million owed. It’s essential that we have a workable plan in place,” Pennacchio (R-26) said. “If residents are struggling to pay their monthly utility bills now, how will they be able to pay for a whole year in one chunk. If these payments aren’t made, it will fall on the backs of ratepayers, and we don’t want them stuck holding the bill. We need to come up with a plan now.

“BPU must play a role in establishing policies for repayment and creating payment plan options for ratepayers,” Pennacchio said.

The Senators’ letter asked the Board to hear from public utilities and ratepayer advocate groups to learn their intentions once the pandemic and moratorium are over.

“When it’s finally time to settle up, to pay for energy they have already used, it is going to be a shock,” Oroho (R-24) said. “BPU should start the discussions now and come to the Legislature with ideas if necessary. It makes sense to limit a moratorium to homeowners, tenants and businesses who have been financially impacted as a result this pandemic. The law of unintended consequences is always lurking and I hope we can avoid situations whereby someone had the ability to pay but took advantage of a moratorium and now finds themselves in financial distress because they now have to settle their bill.”

The Senators also urged BPU to pay special attention to the disabled, unemployed and the elderly when they are formulating a plan.

Jay Edwards

Born and raised in Northwest NJ, Jay has a degree in Communications and has had a life-long interest in local radio and various styles of music. Jay has held numerous jobs over the years such as stunt car driver, bartender, voice-over artist, traffic reporter (award winning), NY Yankee maintenance crewmember and peanut farm worker. His hobbies include mountain climbing, snowmobiling, cooking, performing stand-up comedy and he is an avid squirrel watcher. Jay has been a guest on America’s Morning Headquarters,program on The Weather Channel, and was interviewed by Sam Champion.

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