By David Madden

TRENTON (CBS) — The lame duck session of the New Jersey legislature is considering a move that could cause electric bills to go up in the Garden State.

PSE&G suggests it might shut down its three nuclear plants in Salem County if it doesn’t get subsidies from the state. A bill introduced into both houses last week could provide $300 million a year and increase the average annual residential bill by up to $40, if it’s approved and the Board of Public Utilities follows the process allowed under it.

“In the case of nuclear power, much is at stake for New Jersey,” utility President Ralph Izzo testified at a hearing in Trenton. “It comes in the form of clean air. It comes in the form of a resilient and secure grid. It comes in the form of jobs. It comes in the form of lower energy prices.”

Opponents say it’s a blatant money grab by the utility without any real proof subsidies are even needed.

“We don’t want to see these plants close either, but all of the assumptions in these reports assume the plants are going to close,” said Stefanie Brand, of the New Jersey Division of Rate Counsel, who helps to govern utility rates in the state. “But I challenge that assumption and I think we need the information before any rate is set or any subsidy is provided.”

If legislators approve just after the holidays, Gov. Chris Christie would make the final decision. While he won’t commit on the question until he sees the bill in its final form, he told reporters in Trenton that he supports the nuclear industry in general.

Supporters of the plan would have to start from scratch if a decision is not made before the January 16th inaugural of Christie’s successor, Democrat Phil Murphy.

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