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Critics Say Con Edison Rate Hike Would Boost Fossil Fuel Use

New York State

Utility rates, gas and electric rates, Con Edison, gas moratorium, Public Service Commission.

If Con Edison has its way, gas and electricity rates are going up.

Dec. 18, 2019

Con Edison wants to increase electricity and natural-gas rates during the next three years. With the state Public Service Commission (PSC) scheduled to vote next month on the request, Con Edison customers aren’t the only ones voicing displeasure with it. 

A rate hike would “funnel more cash into fossil-fuel infrastructure that will dig us deeper into the climate crisis,” says city Comptroller Scott Stringer, as reported by Crain’s.

Meanwhile, state Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins – whose Westchester County district is feeling the sting of Con Edison’s moratorium on new natural-gas hookups – says a rate increase would harm her “overburdened” constituents. “I am very aware of the high cost of energy that our residents pay,” Stewart-Cousins wrote in a message to the PSC. “Con Ed rates are among the highest in the nation, and our region pays 16 percent above the national average for electricity and substantially more for natural gas." Con Edison claims its supply infrastructure is maxed out, and it is unable to accept new customers while continuing to serve existing customers. 

If Con Edison wins approval for its requested rate hike, the cost for electricity for a typical customer in Con Ed’s Manhattan and Bronx territories would rise 4 percent next year, 4.5 percent in 2021, and 3.8 percent in 2022. Gas costs would rise even more sharply – by an average of 7.5 percent in 2020, 8.8 percent in 2021, and 7.2 percent in 2022. 

Con Edison reached an agreement for the increases with state regulators and environmental groups in October. The Mayor’s Office of Sustainability, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and Columbia University’s Sabin Center for Climate Change all signed off on the plan. The de Blasio administration submitted an additional letter of support for Con Ed’s rate proposal with the state, claiming the rate-hike agreement represents a “positive result” for New York City consumers because it includes increased commitment to provide discounts for low-income customers while improving grid reliability

Stringer, for one, disagrees: “I am disappointed that the city would support any deal which allows Con Edison to spend hundreds of millions of rate-payer dollars to bolster the city’s natural-gas network – instead of meaningfully investing in renewable and electric alternatives.”

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