BPU pads electric bills to push green agenda

BPU pads electric bills to push green agenda
By SETH GROSSMAN, Political Columnist

(Reprinted from August 11, 2010 Current-Gazette Newspapers of Atlantic and Cape May Counties, http://www.shorenewstoday.com/index….en-agenda.html)

?Revenue and profits fell at Borgata Hotel Casino and Spa in the second quarter?Boyd executives?cited higher utility costs associated with the summer’s sizzling weather for cutting into profits. . .?
? Press of Atlantic City, Aug. 4, 2010

If April, May, and June electric bills cut profits at the Borgata, think of the July bill!

In June, my office was billed $315 for 1,600 kilowatts when the average temperature was 75 degrees. In July the average temperature was 80 degrees, and I was billed $635 for 3,100 kilowatt hours.

Every business, doctor, and hospital got big electric bills. So did every public building. We will soon see them in higher prices and taxes.

The heat wave was only part of the problem. During the past two years, my bills went from 18.3 cents per kilowatt hour to 20.5 cents per kilowatt hour, an increase of more than 6 percent per year. But during this same time, fuel costs to produce electricity actually went down.

Why?

A state agency called the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (BPU) is deliberately padding our electric bills to reward politicians and push a ?green? energy agenda.

My guess is that 25 percent to 35 percent of our electric bills have nothing to do with the real cost of the energy we use.

This is ironic. The BPU was created in 1911 by ?progressive? politicians. They said state government was needed to protect ?the public? from being overcharged by private electric companies.

But today, the BPU forces private electric companies to overcharge customers. The five BPU members are picked by the governor and state Senate. They only attend a few meetings a month, but they are paid $150,000 per year, plus health benefits, free car, gas, EZ Pass, and juiced up state pensions. Most are like Republican ex-Sen. Nick Asselta, a master of pay-to-play politics who was voted out of office by angry voters.

BPU members are far more loyal to the politicians who appoint them than to the ?public? they are supposed to protect.

Because electric companies, like casinos, are so highly regulated by politicians, they often waste lots of money on high-paid employees, consultants, and projects chosen for politics ? not business.

But the BPU can and does let electric companies profit from failed projects and bloated payrolls that produce nothing for consumers. That is what those ?market transition,? ?transition bond? and ?infrastructure investment? charges on our electric bills are all about.

The BPU also forces electric companies to give free service to ?poor? people who usually support Democrats. Many of them live quite well, but don?t report their incomes, like many illegal immigrants. The BPU also forces the phone and gas companies to charge us extra to give these same ?poor? people free gas and heating oil in the winter, and even free cell phones.

But the BPU jacks up electric bills the most by forcing electric companies to grossly overpay for ?green energy.? Neither the BPU nor any electric company will say how much it really costs to generate a kilowatt hour (kwh) of ?green? electricity. The cost is roughly 80 cents in California, but I bet it is close to $1 here in New Jersey. Since coal, oil, and nuclear plants produce electricity for less than 8 cents per kwh, electric companies must collect 92 cents from the rest of us, for every kwh of ?green energy? they are forced to buy.

Remember this every time you read how a town, church or synagogue ?saves? money with new windmills or solar panels. The electric company is forced to pay them anywhere from $400 to $800 every time they produce $60 worth of electricity. It is done through a deliberately confusing REC (Renewable Energy Certificate) system.

Last year, AtlantiCare was forced to buy thousands of dollars of these RECs just to get permits for its new cancer center in Egg Harbor Township. This raises health insurance costs.

Exactly how much extra do we pay directly and indirectly for ?green? energy, and how many jobs are lost as a result?

If the Board of Public Utilities really represented the public, it would tell us. If the Hughes Institute for Public Policy at Stockton College did honest research on important public issues, it would find out.

But they don?t, so we can only guess while we scramble to pay our electric bills and hope that the BPU won?t kill Atlantic City casinos the way other state government agencies killed the factories in Millville and Mays Landing.

Somers Point attorney Seth Grossman appears live on WVLT-92.1FM, heard throughout South Jersey 8-9 a.m. every Saturday. For information see www.libertyandprosperity.org, email grossman@snip.net or call (609) 927-7333. Breakfast discussions are held 9:30-10:30 a.m. every Saturday at the Shore Diner, Tilton and Fire Roads, Egg Harbor Township.

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