June 2, 2021

Some residents may get a higher electric bill in June. Here’s why.

Some residents may get a higher electric bill in June. Here’s why.


Thousands of New Jerseyans could get a surprise in their next electric bill.

Jersey Central Power and Light (JCP&L) suspended indoor meter readings in March 2020 as a safety measure during the coronavirus pandemic. That meant customers with indoor meters, unless they read the meters themselves and reported back to the company, were billed based on estimated usage.

JCP&L said it is restarting those meter readings this week, so some customers will end up with unexpectedly higher bills.

The company wouldn’t share the number of customers who are affected, but someone familiar with the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to speak publicly, characterized it as “tens of thousands” of customers.

“Customers are being charged for the difference between the actual electricity consumption and the amount that was estimated in their original bill,” a spokesman said. “These are not overcharges or rate increases, but bring their accounts current based on actual electric usage.”

Because of the pandemic, people were spending much more time at home than usual. They ate up more electricity as they worked at home, participated in virtual school and had more time to binge-watch more television shows. That will be reflected on their bills once the meters are read, the company said.

The estimation formula for bills is based on electricity consumption from the same month a year ago, JCP&L said.

The more-than-a-year-long delay compares to PSE&G, which resumed interior meter readings for the August 2020 billing cycle.

“Safety is always our No. 1 priority, both for our team members, our customers, and the public at large,” the JCP&L spokesman said. “As vaccination rates are increasing and case counts continue to decline in our service area, JCP&L believes now is the safest time to resume this practice.”

“Our customer service teams have been reaching out to customers via telephone for several months to raise awareness and gather manual meter readings from customers to assist in bringing these accounts current,” he said.

The increase in bills for some customers comes as the June 30 end-date for Gov. Phil Murphy’s utility moratorium fast approaches.

If you receive a higher bill, the company said you can call (800) 662-3115 to discuss payment arrangements.

The company said not everyone’s meter will be read immediately, but you can tell whether yours has been read by looking at the “Usage Information for Meter Number xxxxxxxx” section of the bill. That will tell you if the bill is based on an actual or estimated reading.

If your meter hasn’t been read, you can submit your own meter reading by logging into your account at www.jcp-l.com or by calling customer service. You can find instructions on how to read the meter on the company’s website.

If you live in an apartment building, you should work with your property manager to get a meter reading that you can submit to JCP&L, the company said.

JCP&L serves 1.1 million customers in Burlington, Essex, Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, Monmouth, Morris, Ocean, Passaic, Somerset, Sussex, Union and Warren Counties.

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Karin Price Mueller may be reached at KPriceMueller@NJAdvanceMedia.com.



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