CSG Law Alert: New Jersey Board of Public Utilities Issues an Emergency Order in Response to COVID-19

Today, the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (“NJBPU”) held an emergency meeting via conference call to consider a single emergency order responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. During today’s meeting, the NJBPU issued an order, effective today, mandating the following:

  • All public utilities and entities regulated by the NJBPU shall immediately cease any in-home or business visits unless there is an immediate risk to health and safety and the residents.
  • Any door-to-door activity by third party suppliers or other sales persons selling of energy or energy related products (for example: residential solar, community solar, or energy efficiency offerings) are to be suspended immediately.
  • Broadband internet providers may continue to connect new customers or repair existing service for homes with school age children, those who need internet access to meet job requirements, or other priority customers, as defined by each company, provided that such visits should only be done as a last resort after utilizing hotspots, self-install kits, and like measures to minimize in-home visits.

Although not in the order, NJBPU President Fiordoliso mentioned lack of water service and natural gas leaks as examples of emergent situations involving health and safety risks.

In addition, as an administrative matter, the NJBPU waived any requirements that entities file paper documents with NJBPU or the Division of Rate Counsel, and ordered all submissions of any kind with NJBPU or Rate Counsel be submitted electronically to the Board Secretary or to Rate Counsel. This includes, but is not limited to, those entities participating in the e-filing project, as well as the requirements of N.J.A.C. 14:1 et seq. and N.J.A.C. 13:17.1 et seq. Parties filing documents electronically with the Board Secretary may send them to board.secretary@bpu.nj.gov, and electronically to the rest of the particular matter’s service list. A document will be considered filed on the party receives an electronic confirmation of the filing from the Office of the Board Secretary or Office of Case Management.

NJBPU also ordered that it will construe its filing requirement liberally to minimize the amount of non-electronic filing of any documents and waive the prohibition on the submission of an electronic document from being entered into the record of a formal proceeding. Finally, NJBPU suspended submission of fees due with an original filing as set forth in N.J.S.A. 48:2-56 until further notice. The order is clear that suspended filing fees will be due at a future date to be determined by NJBPU.

It is expected that future NJBPU agenda meetings, to the extent not cancelled, will continue via conference call.

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