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Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Top Stories > General

NYSEG settles with NYPSC

Rate hike in October

Jun 29, 2020

By Patricio Robayo - staff writer

By: Democrat File Photo
NYSEG proposes rate changes in the next three years after settling with the New York Public Service Commission.
REGION — Recently a settlement between Avangrid and its subsidiary, New York State Electric & Gas and the New York Public Service Commission (NYPSC), was announced to include rate changes and how NYSEG will serve its customers during the COVID-19 pandemic.
On October 1, the first-rate change will be 4.6 percent for the first year for businesses and 2.3 percent for customers. The bill for residential customers will be an increase of $2.49 on average—no gas delivery rate change for the first year.

In years two and three, the rates will increase by 9.1 percent for each year, with a monthly bill increase of $4.13 for the average customer.
However, State Senator Jen Metzger is not pleased with the settlement that included these rate increases.
“It is outrageous that the parties to this rate case have agreed to impose a nearly 25 percent increase in electric rates over three years, in total and utter disregard for the pandemic and the economic toll it has taken on residents and small businesses in our region,” said Metzger.
According to Metzger, the latest job reports shows unemployment rates between ten and 12 percent.
“Such an exorbitant increase is inexcusable,” added Metzger.
Metzger is very concerned that while NYSEG is increasing their rates, there are continuing problems with service and reliability in the Sullivan County and surrounding areas.
“NYSEG has consistently under-invested in preventative maintenance for reliability, which worsened the severity of impacts of the March 2018 winter storms and has also contributed to a high frequency of power outages in my Senate district more generally,” said Metzger.
Part of the settlement does include NYSEG's distribution of tree trimming funding that will range from $30 million to $57.2 million annually.
According to NYSEG, part of that funding, a $17.2 million distribution system program, will be created to focus on trimming trees in areas that posed an increased risk for outages.
Furthermore, this will move the company towards industry-standard of trimming all circuits over a five-year cycle.
“The increase in funding for vegetation management proposed in this joint proposal is a welcome start, but the additional investment is likely needed given the catch-up necessary because of years of neglect,” said Metzger.
Moreover, Metzger said the utility company would spend nearly $490 million in the joint proposal on Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) when many customers in her district still lack broadband access to utilize it.
Metzger said, “Funding would be better spent on additional investment in preventive maintenance and on replacing antiquated circuits to improve power quality and better support renewable energy on the distribution system.”
According to the settlement, NYSEG says they support clean energy, which for them, is natural gas. NYSEG says they will take “Robust measures that maintain the safety of the natural gas delivery system.”
NYSEG said they would continue to fix leaks in their gas system.
The joint settlement also includes $16.5 million for NYSEG customers and businesses that are most vulnerable during the COVID-19 pandemics.
According to NYSEG, the money will be distributed automatically, pending regulatory approval, though it will be $100 bill credits in the three phases starting in October 2020 to those who qualify.

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