NEW JERSEY — A new bill introduced this week in the New Jersey Senate proposes a tax moratorium on residential customers who use natural gas and electricity to heat their homes this holiday season.
S3354 sponsors Joseph Pennacchio (R-24) and Declan O’Scanlon Jr. (R-13) say the tax break is necessary after higher gasoline prices went into effect Oct. 1 after state regulators pushed double digits Amounts had approved hikes for four gas suppliers serving millions of residential customers throughout the Garden State. Nearly 2 million customers were impacted when the state’s largest utility, PSE&G, hiked tariffs by 25 percent. READ ALSO: NJ Pays More For Heat As State Approves Millions Of Dollars In Gas Price Increases
Similarly, the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities approved rate hikes for three other utilities during a September meeting. These increases include:
- New Jersey Natural Gas (up $21.01 per month or 15 percent)
- Elizabethtown Gas (up $25.33 per month or 22 percent)
- South Jersey Gas (up $31.49 per month or 18.6 percent)
“The Board of Public Utilities has approved the massive rate hike and the state is unfairly benefiting from high heating bills,” Pennacchio said in a statement. “It’s not fair to families who are already struggling in a threatening fiscal environment. We will not allow the state to rake in the revenues from detrimental price hikes that add to the financial pressure on residents who are already reeling from runaway inflation and soaring interest rates.”
Census Bureau estimates show that over 2.5 million New Jersey homes rely on natural gas to heat their homes in the winter, another 555,363 homes rely on electricity, and 240,765 choose heating oil or kerosene.
The increase in natural gas prices, which reached their highest level since 2008, is due to several factors. Oil, fuel and coal markets were in turmoil amid the international fallout from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The United States also faced scorching temperatures this summer, forcing customers to crank up the air conditioning. This hurt inventories more, but US oil and gas companies have spent less on expensive drilling projects and more on dividends and shareholder buybacks.
“Adding sales tax to skyrocketing tax rates rubs salt in the wounds of state residents caught in an economic maelstrom,” said O’Scanlon (R-13). “Families are being hit from all sides, inflation is driving up the cost of groceries and gasoline, and rising interest rates are impacting the prices of homes, cars and credit card purchases. People are desperate for relief and this law is a step in the right direction.” Continue reading: Inflation is eating away at NJ’s unspent pandemic funds, GOP lawmakers say
The state Department of Community Affairs has separately enacted a winter termination program to prevent the suspension of service for some eligible customers in utility programs receiving residential power, sewage, and water from November 15 through March 15. Click here to check eligibility.
–With reporting by Josh Bakan.