Should PSE&G Shareholders or Customers Carry the Cost of Solar Energy?
Public Service Electric& Gas (PSE&G) has developed a proposal to increase solar energy capacity on its grid. The $883 million program, however, places most of the burden on the utility’s customers rather than its shareholders.
The project’s revenue will likely come from surcharges on customer bills. While one could argue for or against rate payers versus taxpayers shelling out funding for the project, the main issue lies in the proposal’s notion that shareholders will receive the return on investment for the solar program, when they have essentially invested nothing.
Small Surcharges Add Up
PSE&G executives have stated that the increase for the average residential customer’s bill is quite modest – around $12 per year. However, other surcharges – such as the $3.9 billion program to modernize electric and natural gas infrastructure stemming from issues during and after Hurricane Sandy – add up.
Adding surcharges on customer bills is a growing trend among many utilities in order to recover costs or bring in additional revenue for projects. While some of these charges are necessary, customer advocate groups as well as the New Jersey Rate Council are concerned that the surcharge trend will continue to add burden to rate payers until the state’s Board of Public Utilities enforces more control on surcharge additions for New Jersey utilities.
Under the solar program PSE&G plans to add 233 megawatts of new solar capacity, primarily on abandoned landfill and urban brownfields as well as warehouse rooftops and parking lots. New Jersey’s Christie administration had previously pushed for more solar developments on existing, abandoned sites rather than on undeveloped sites such as farms. PSE&G seems to have responded to this request adequately, despite the issues with funding.
Save on Your Electric Bill at RenewableElectricity.com
Here at RenewableElectricity.com, we believe that solar energy and other renewable energy sources are key for a sustainable future. We also believe that utility customers shouldn’t be paying more than they should on their electricity bills. While customers can’t avoid the new surcharges if approved, customers can still shop around for the supply side of their electricity by comparing rates from retail electricity providers. To view a list of reliable providers that offer partial or 100% green plans, type your zip code into the box at the top of this page and then select your utility. The tool is free and there is no obligation to switch if you choose not to.