TRENTON, NJ - Legislation sponsored by Assemblyman Patrick Diegnan and fellow assembly Democrats to help cut costs for municipally operated utilities received final legislative approval last month and now heads to the Governor's desk.

The bill (A-2385) would authorize three or more municipalities that currently operate electric utilities to establish a shared services energy authority that may purchase, sell, exchange or transmit electricity at wholesale. The bill also would authorize a rural electric cooperative already in existence to join the authority once it has been established.

"There's a real advantage to having municipalities work together to deliver quality services at lower rates on behalf of their customers," Diegnan said. "This legislation is about prioritizing affordable rates without compromising reliability."

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Currently, the joint operation of such facilities in this manner is not permitted under the "Uniform Shared Services and Consolidation Act."

The measure authorizes the formation of power supply contracts for a term of up to 40 years.

South River and Milltown are two of the nine municipalities which operate independent electric utilities that would be eligible to participate in the authority under the bill.

The bill was approved, 39-0, by the Senate on June 25 and 70-0-1 by the Assembly in February.