TRENTON, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) – The cost of cleaning up after Hurricane Irene, superstorm Sandy and two other major storms may be passed down to some New Jersey utility customers.

Jersey Central Power & Light, New Jersey’s second-largest utility company, has been given tentative permission to raise customers’ bills to pay the costs it incurred to restore power following the storms in 2011 and 2012.

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As WCBS 880’s Monica Miller reported, the agreement was reached between JCP&L and some state regulators. Under the deal, the utility would be able to raise an additional $736 million.

“That stipulation is a significant step in our being able to recover the hundreds of millions of dollars that JCP&L spent to restore customers to service as quickly and safely as possible,” utility spokesman Ron Morano told Miller.

Morano said recovery of storm-related costs is allowed under New Jersey state law.

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When it initially filed with the Board of Public Utilities last year, the company said rates would need to go up 4.5 percent, or about $53 per year per customer. The rate hike could affect about a million customers, Miller reported.

The deal still needs the approval of the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities full board.

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