Michael Heffler 12/19/2018
Since getting involved fighting the PennEast pipeline I’ve been wondering how to hit the natural gas companies, that are the investors in the pipeline, in the wallet. How can we let them know their decision to build this pipeline is negatively affecting their bottom line and the perception of their customers.
It turns out there is a way!
Aggregation is a program available to towns to bundle the electric rate that ratepayers (all citizens and businesses hooked up to the electric grid) pay. Traditionally, Aggregation has been used to lower the electric rate. We have done this over the past few years in Lambertville and West Amwell, bundling our towns ratepayers together. What is also available, and what the Greening the Pipeline Route program is proposing is that rather than simply lower the rate, we change the mix of how we get electricity to lower the percentage of natural gas used that is supplied by the companies investing in PennEast. We can do this by increasing the percentage of renewables. The current mix from JCP&L is 40% nuclear, 40% natural gas and 20% renewables. We can increase the renewable percentage to 40% and this will reduce the natural gas percentage by 20% (cut it in half). The natural gas portion is provided by the companies investing in PennEast. We can hit them directly in the wallet.
It gets better. There is no cost and no action required by the ratepayers. This new Aggregate percentage mix would come at no additional cost and would require no action on the part of ratepayers. Ratepayers could opt-out of this new rate to either go 100% renewables at roughly an additional ½ cent per kilowatt hour of electricity or opt out to one of the other alternate choices that are available from JCP&L. The new aggregate rate would match JCP&L’s standard rate.
JCP&L is primarily a transmitter of electricity. Nothing would change in terms of billing or electrical service for ratepayers. There are currently two expense lines on the JCP&L bill we all receive, one for transmission (the electrons coming over the grid), the other for the supplier of the electricity, which will be the company selected through the Aggregation bidding process. JCP&L uses a similar bidding process to choose their electricity supplier.
Contact your township councils and tell them you’ve heard about this program, Greening the Pipeline, and you’d like to make sure your town participates to increase the percentage of renewables in your electricity and let the investors in PennEast know their customers, all of us who get electricity along the proposed pipeline route are going to fight back with our purchasing power.