LETTER: Madison resident responds to Republican claims on electric utility

TO THE EDITOR: The Madison Republican candidates and their Madison Republican Committee (MRC) supporters are at it again. For almost a decade now, they have been arguing that our electric rates are excessive as their flagship campaign issue. And they are doing it again this year in multiple letters to the editor of the Madison Eagle.

Yet with but one exception, Republican candidates have lost every one of those elections! You would think the MRC and its candidates would listen to the voters and pursue some other issue. Madison voters have demonstrated that they like our electric utility.

To repeat: the borough-owned electric utility represents a good deal for Madison residents. We receive high-quality electrical service at competitive rates. The net earnings (or “surplus”) from the utility is transferred to the municipality to help pay for borough services – like police and fire protection — and investments in our infrastructure and equipment rather than paying for dividends and interest to stockholders and creditors of an investor-owned utility.

Madison residential rates (with the dividend) are very competitive with all but one New Jersey investor-owned utility: JCP&L. It is true that neighboring communities served by that utility have historically paid less for their service. However, the quality of the service that these ratepayers receive is commensurate with what they pay – it is notoriously much poorer than Madison’s.

In 2017, Madison was ranked in the top 10 percent of all utilities in the U.S. for the fewest outages that year. JCP&L has never been anywhere near the top 10 percent, and the company’s inability to restore service in a timely manner is legendary.

As we recall the impact of Superstorm Sandy, electrical service to almost all Madison customers was restored within a matter of a few days. For many JCP&L customers, it was a matter of weeks. More recently, in March 2018, Madison utility workers were called in to help JCP&L workers restore service to our Harding Township neighbors. They couldn’t do it by themselves.

Republican candidates in Madison really do need to find something else to talk about. But I would suggest the “resto[ring] law and order to our community” as posed by Gordon Lewis in his letter of October 4 is not a good one. Like our fine utility workers, the Madison Police department is doing a excellent job of keeping us safe.