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Consumer advocates and environmentalists try to block RG&E, NYSEG rate increases

The RG&E station behind the convention center and next to the Broad Street Bridge.
Max Schulte
The RG&E station behind the convention center and next to the Broad Street Bridge.

Several consumer and environmental advocacy organizations have filed a motion seeking dismissal of rate increases requested by Rochester Gas & Electric and New York State Electric and Gas.

The motion was filed with the New York Public Service Commission by groups including the Public Utility Law Project, Alliance for a Green Economy, Climate Solutions Accelerator of the Genesee-Finger Lakes Region, Fossil Free Tompkins and the AARP of New York.

They claim that the filing for the double digit rate hikes by RG&E and NYSEG, which are both part of the company Avangrid, are legally deficient and riddled with errors.

Joe Stelling is the State Associate Director for AARP New York, and he said these proposed rate hikes would be particularly harmful to their members, many of whom who are on fixed incomes and already are dealing with high utility bills.

“People's fixed incomes are not keeping pace and to see utility increases that are unjustified or the record isn't justifying them on top of it, it would be completely unacceptable to move forward with this kind of request,” Stelling said.

And he said in any case, the state can always pass a temporary increase if needed while the utilities’ request is still being considered.

“If temporarily, the [Public Service Commission] needs to institute a temporary rate to ensure safety and reliability," Stelling said. "They have the power to do that under the law, so they can make sure that our power is safe and reliable without pushing forward an unnecessarily huge rate hike, and that's what we're asking them to do.”

RG&E and NYSEG issued a statement saying that their proposed plan would help implement much needed investment in the companies’ infrastructure. The utilities’ said that investment will “provide for a better customer experience, and provide benefits for the companies’ most vulnerable customers.”

The two utilities also contend that they have sufficiently documented their case for the rate increases and they intend to file a response to the motion from the consumer and environmental groups.

Randy Gorbman is WXXI's director of news and public affairs. Randy manages the day-to-day operations of WXXI News on radio, television, and online.