Governor Hochul’s Department of Public Service Co-signs Proposed Hikes Released Today
NYSEG and the Department of Public Service have agreed to a compounded rate hike of 62% for NYSEG electric customers over the next three years. The deal also includes increases of 19% for NYSEG Gas, 37% for RG&E electric and 34% for RG&E gas over the same timeframe. The deal also includes an increase in profits for utility investors with a return on equity of 9.2%, up from the current 8.8%.
When NYSEG and RG&E initially proposed double digit rate increases last May, Governor Hochul called them “outrageous and unacceptable” and asked her Department of Public Service (DPS) to “scrutinize every number and word of this proposal.” But the Governor also vetoed a bill in December that would have enabled funding for nonprofits that intervene in rate cases to advocate on behalf of utility customers. Today’s settlement proposing massive rate hikes shows how needed intervenor funding is in New York. The Senate has passed the bill again this legislative session and the Assembly is scheduled to vote on itt next week.
For over a year, the Governor’s agency and the utilities have been haggling over what the rate hike should be, while consumer advocates called for the entire proposal to be dismissed because it lacked the required justifications and the companies were under investigation for a rash of billing errors.
“After a year of negotiations it’s hard to see any benefit to the utility customers. The proposed rate hikes are unaffordable to the point of being unconscionable. Meanwhile, billing problems still exist, the companies have not committed to reduce their customers’ fossil fuel use or greenhouse gas emissions, and they have not made any specific plans to address, nor detailed how their proposal impacts disadvantaged communities as required by our State’s climate law,” said Irene Weiser, coordinator of Fossil Free Tompkins. “It is outrageous that the Governor’s regulators co-signed this pathetic proposal to raise rates this high instead of siding with consumer advocates to send the utility back to file a proper and reasonable proposal.”
“During the COVID epidemic, the Companies gave nearly a billion dollars to their shareholders, and sent over a million disconnect notices to their customers during a time that the State had halted any disconnections. Now they’re seeking $769 million in rate hikes. Where is the justice for ratepayers, many of whom are struggling under the weight of the pandemic and inflation?” said Kristen Van Hooreweghe, Director of Collaborative Action at the Climate Solutions Accelerator of the Genesee-Finger Lakes Region.
“Governor Hochul and Assembly Speaker Heastie could have blunted these rate hikes by following the State Senate’s lead and passing the NY HEAT Act, which saves money by avoiding gas subsidies in rate cases and protects low and moderate income households from energy bill increases like this,” said Jessica Azulay, Executive Director of Alliance for a Green Economy. “Instead, they punted for another year, leaving New Yorkers on the hook for exorbitant rate hikes. The Governor must now answer for these rate hikes that her own agency is proposing and commit to support NY HEAT as soon as possible.”
Over a dozen County Boards of Legislators across the state and 34 State elected officials have appealed to Governor Hochul to deny the rate increases until the billing problems are fixed and the Companies submit a proper, detailed rate request.
The plan will be reviewed by the Public Service Commission and they are expected to render a decision on whether to approve the rate increases later in the summer.
Irene Weiser, 607-435-3010, Fossil Free Tompkins
Jessica Azulay, 917-697-4472, Alliance for the Green Economy