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Today at the Senate Energy and Environment Committee, Senator Smith announced the formation of a stakeholder group to provide recommendations on a bill for decoupling—the process of separating utility revenue from commodity sales. Reading an article from Barron’s magazine, Smith walked the committee through why he thought this was a relevant topic. Citing the need to address the “utility death spiral,” the Senator wants the group to revisit decoupling for utilities in New Jersey.  NJBIA’s Sara Bluhm has once again been tapped by the Senator to co-chair a working group. Sara will work with three other co-chairs: Andrew Hendry- NJ Utilities Association, Doug O’Malley -Environment NJ, and Fred DeSanti.

Smith set out a 90-day timeframe for the committee to deliberate and come up with ideas for a bill. Two years ago, a previous working group was unable to develop a report with recommendations.  Net metering, micro-grids and other policies have been impacting the energy world and serving as disruptors to the traditional electric model. As other states implement forms of decoupling, the Senator felt that New Jersey is falling behind.  Smith indicated that the world has changed and that the group did not need consensus.  Most stakeholders need to see it as a step forward, so that a bill can start being vetted, and the industry can be changed.

Smith asked for a presentation on ratemaking in September and formal recommendations by November.

Anyone interested in decoupling should feel free to participate and send their information to Alison Accettola in email.  As always NJBIA is interested in what our members are thinking on this topic and you can send Sara an email to share them.

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