New Jersey passes deregulation bill

New Jersey has passed a law bringing in gas and electricity deregulation. The law allows residential, commercial and industrial electricity customers to choose their power from August 1. Natural gas customers can choose from December 31, 1999.

Rate cuts of 5 per cent are guaranteed from August 1, rising to 10 per cent over 36 months.

Utilities, which will be obligated for at least three years to supply customers who do not choose another provider, have rights under the bill to reclaim losses on uncompetitive investments made with regulatory approval.

The lack of fair competition is said to have pushed New Jersey`s average electricity rate to levels higher than the national average.