NYSEG and RG&E announce proposed rate case settlement with state regulators
Rochester Gas & Electric (RG&E) and New York State Electric & Gas (NYSEG) say they have reached a proposed settlement with the state over their rate hike request.
The proposal, released by the utilities (both owned by Avangrid) on Wednesday, calls for an increase that totals 16% in electric rates for RG&E customers spread out over a three-year period.
The initial proposal, which brought a lot of criticism from local officials and consumer groups last year, would have increased rates overall about 22% over a one-year period.
RG&E said the settlement calls for about an 11% increase over three years for natural gas customers.
(other proposed rate changes are in the tables below).
Patricia Nilsen, president and CEO of RG&E and NYSEG, said that the impact for each company and each service will be a $10 increase or less per month.
“While this is a rate increase, it is a very thoughtful, mindful process to try to balance what are the cost impacts for our customers, as well as what are the needs of our customers and the needs of the grid, in order for us to safely continue to operate and serve our customers,” Nilsen said.
Nilsen said that raising rates “is an unavoidable step” if the utilities are going to continue to meet customers’ current and future energy needs. She said RG&E and NYSEG are trying to continue to provide reliable service, while also meeting the demand for more electricity due to things like more electric vehicles on the roads.
The two utilities have been under fire by a number of local officials and consumers over problems that occurred in recent months over billing issues, something the company said was due in part to the difficulty in having enough customer support staff.
That’s an area Nilsen has said they are making good inroads in improving.
Two consumer advocacy organizations, the Public Utility Law Project (PULP) of New York and AARP voiced strong opposition to the proposed settlement. Alicia Landis, Supervisor of Director Services and Counsel for PULP said that they are “deeply troubled” by what she called “the massive rate increase request” put forward by the utilities and staff of the Dept. of Public Service.
Landis said if approved, the settlement will “exacerbate the unaffordability crisis in some of the poorest areas of New York state.”
Landis did say that intervenors in the rate case were able to secure some good consumer protections in the settlement, including shutoff protections for days of extreme heat.
Joe Stelling is Associate State Director for AARP. He said that he represents a lot of New Yorkers who are on a fixed income and are already feeling the pressure of higher inflation.
“What we hear from our members, when things like this go into effect is it causes them to have to make tough choices between putting food on the table, taking the medicines they need, keeping the lights on, and it’s just incredibly painful for so many people who are struggling right now to make ends meet,” said Stelling.
The New York State Public Service Commission will be holding hearings and taking public comments on the proposed settlement in the coming months, and Nilsen said the PSC could have a ruling on the settlement plan this fall.
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