BPU Power Auction: Will Low Natural-Gas Prices Hold Down Electricity Rates?

The state is gearing up to decide where to spend about $6 billion or so of ratepayers’ money.

In an annual ritual, the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities is conducting an auction starting Friday to determine, in part, the price most residential customers will pay for their monthly electric bill, beginning next June.

The auction, the 16th conducted by the regulatory agency since New Jersey deregulated the energy sector, is the mechanism the state uses to lock up the power needed to keep lights on for residents and businesses that do not bother to shop around for a better electricity deal.

For the most part, the auction has been generally viewed as a successful model to buy power for customers. With a sharp drop in natural-gas prices, most customers have seen their bills decline or stay steady in recent years, although prices went up a bit following last year’s auction for all utilities, except Jersey Central Power & Light.

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