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Gov. Cuomo Calls on Commission to Reject ConEd Rate Increase

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PostPosted: Mon Oct 14, 2013 6:51 pm    Post subject: Gov. Cuomo Calls on Commission to Reject ConEd Rate Increase
From Oct 14, 2013 to Oct 18, 2013 (included)
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Gov. Cuomo Calls on Commission to Reject ConEd Rate Increases

By Bill Sanderson

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday urged the state Public Service Commission to reject Consolidated Edison’s request for a rate increase in 2014, citing the company’s performance during superstorm Sandy and the recent power outage on Metro-North’s New Haven line.

“It’s clear that now is not the time for Con Edison to demand that its customers pay more,” Mr. Cuomo said in a statement.

Getty Images
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo speaks outside New York City Hall after New York City mayoral hopeful Bill Thompson conceded defeat to New York City Democratic mayoral candidate Bill De Blasio recently.The governor’s comments come after The Wall Street Journal wrote about ConEd’s proposal — and the Cuomo administration’s counter proposal — in Tuesday’s paper.

In a letter to the bi-partisan PSC, Mr. Cuomo said last year’s hurricane and the Metro-North outage “reinforced the importance of a reliable electric system and the need to hold utilities accountable for their preparedness and response, especially when considering potential rate hikes.”

The letter noted that ConEd customers pay among the highest electricity prices in the nation, “making it essential that the Commission scrutinize any request for further rate increases.”

The PSC is weighing a Con Edison plan that would boost typical electric bills by 4% and typical gas heating bills by 1.5%.

“It is clear that such rate increases are not warranted, and I urge the Commission to reject the utility’s request to increase rates,” Mr. Cuomo wrote.

ConEd said in a statement, “We will continue working with the Commission, and state and local officials, on the importance of protecting New York City and Westchester from the next major storm. We also must continue making investments necessary to maintain the high level of reliability New Yorkers expect and deserve.”

The PSC’s staff already has proposed cutting typical electric bills by 1.7% and cutting gas bills by 6.7%.

The state Utility Intervention Unit – a state agency that is part of the Division of Consumer Protection and is led by a Cuomo appointee – has put forward a plan to cut the company’s revenue even further.

The UIU proposal says would result in 10% rate cuts for some electricity customers, while its plan for gas customers is in line with the PSC proposal.

Cuomo said Con Ed doesn’t need a rate increase to strengthen its system against future hurricanes like Sandy.

“Given the historically low interest rates and the economic and income growth forecasts, such investments can be made without the rate increase requested by the utility. Maintaining stable rates and indeed, lowering rates whenever feasible, is critical to supporting our economic recovery and creating jobs in the region,” his letter said.

The commission has planned a public hearing on the case in Manhattan on Wednesday and in Yonkers on Thursday. It’s expected to make a decision in December.

ConEd says it needs money to satisfy investors and strengthen its system against future storms like Sandy, which cut power to more than 1 million of its electricity customers last October and November when water flooded its substation on East 14th Street and knocked down overhead lines across its system. Power was cut to most of Lower Manhattan for more than three days, and thousands of ConEd customers remained without electricity for up to two weeks.
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