Under a preliminary agreement, Con Edison would be able to hike it its rates by about 12% over three years for residential electric customers in all five boroughs and Westchester, and by over 20% over three years for residential gas customers in The Bronx, Manhattan and northern Queens. If approved by Public Service Commission, The City reports, the new rates would be effective June 1.
The state’s Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA) of 2019 mandates that New York must get 70% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2030, and achieve a zero-emissions electric grid a decade after that. The guidelines to achieve those mandates, known as the “scoping plan,” were released in December. They call for widespread electrification to decrease the state economy’s reliance on fossil fuels.
While some of the investments Con Ed envisions may help advance the city’s transition to a greener future, environmental advocates contend that other proposals may further entrench fossil fuel dependency. On the gas side, for example, the plan includes a commitment to survey the entire pipe network by the end of 2025 to find leaks, as well as incentives to encourage quick response times to customer calls about gas leaks or odors.
“To just be working through hundreds of miles of pipe that are not actively leaking and remaining functional at a time when the scoping plan is saying we need a well-planned and strategic downsizing of the system — and we are about to go through those planning exercises — we just think it’s a really big mistake,” said Chris Casey, a senior attorney with the nonprofit Natural Resources Defense Council, which supported the aspects of the Con Edison proposal related to electric service, but opposed those related to gas.
On the electric side, Con Edison wants to use the revenue from the rate hikes to pay for a slew of projects. Some would help make the energy grid more reliable — including developing energy storage projects in Staten Island and Queens, and burying power lines underground to minimize outages, especially in eastern Queens.
As stated in Con Edison’s proposal, its customers will eventually pay for costs associated with the company’s compliance with Local Law 97 — which aims to reduce carbon emissions from buildings in New York City beginning next year — as well as any fees the utility incurs from the state’s forthcoming congestion pricing scheme in Manhattan.
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