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Let’s all give the power companies some more money

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A lot of residents in Sandy-slammed areas probably thought they saw it all from JCP&L as the recovery effort dragged on.

Actually, a lot of those residents probably saw very little, since many in JCP&L territory were in the dark for days at a time, with no way to know when to expect their lights might come on. But I digress.

Now comes the news that, on top of everything else, the utility wants a 1.4 percent rate hike, which is a lot like a child ripping the head and limbs off a G.I. Joe doll, then demanding his parents buy him a new one. That rate hike, by the way, is only for damage incurred during Irene and “Snowtober.” It has nothing to do with the far-more-devastating Sandy, which the utility has said it will pay for out of its own pocket, without a rate increase.

Ha, ha! Just seeing if you were paying attention. Of course they will apply for another rate hike next year, promising in earnest to use the money to harden their system against major storms.

I’m not sure how much you can really blame JCP&L for the outages after the storm, which was of an intensity completely alien to the Jersey coast. And you certainly can’t fault linemen who worked long days and weeks to get the power back online. But the utility is so ham-handed in the PR department that you could probably serve it with pineapple and baby carrots for Easter dinner. Mayors up and down the state say they were left in the dark, literally and figuratively, about when the juice would come back on; lawsuits have been filed; and some towns and residents have threatened to secede, while others are merely calling for blood. Now they’re demanding another $30 million a year? Even if the plan is to harden the infrastructure, as the company claims, this is not the time to pursue a rate case.

I’m even more irreverent on Twitter @joe_arney.

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