AARP Urges Rejection of State’s Biggest-Ever Proposed Utility Rate Hike
RG&E, NYSEG Customers Can’t Afford 19% to 31% Delivery Charge Increases
ROCHESTER, N.Y. – AARP New York today called on regulators to reject the biggest proposed utility energy delivery rate hikes in state history – by New York State Electric & Gas and Rochester Gas & Electric – especially with consumers already bracing for huge increases in heating bills this winter due to the quadrupling of the costs of natural gas.
The upstate utility companies want to sock their customers with electric delivery rate increases of 31% by NYSEG and 19% by RG&E, the highest by percentage on record in New York. Additionally, NYSEG is proposing a 19% increase in gas delivery rates and RG&E a 21% gas delivery rate hike, which are among the highest on record.
Already, over 106,000 NYSEG customers and 65,000 RG&E customers are at least 60 days behind on their bills, with the two companies having sent notices this month threatening shutoffs to over 100,000 customers (39,000 by RG&E, 66,000 by NYSEG), according to reports filed with the New York State Public Service Commission (PSC).
“These rate increases will result in New York residents paying some of the highest utility rates in the country,” said AARP New York State Director Beth Finkel. “The utilities companies need to go back to the drawing board; these proposed rate hikes are unacceptable.
“New Yorkers are already reeling from inflation and bracing for the huge spikes being projected in the cost of natural gas this coming winter,” Finkel added. “People need to be able to buy groceries, medications and other necessities; the last thing they need are historic increases in the cost of having their energy sent through wires and pipelines to their homes.”
In public comments to the PSC, AARP New York urged commissioners to:
- Reject the utilities’ proposed increases and send them back to the drawing board to submit a proposal that at minimum acknowledges current high inflation and emergence from a global pandemic;
- Reject NYSEG’s proposed 12% increase in its monthly minimum customer electric charge – already among the highest in the nation – to $19 (and its 11% proposed hike in the gas heating customer charge, to $20.30);
- Establish a tree trimming program for NYSEG – the only major utility in New York without a regular tree trim cycle – to reduce customer service outages, and;
- Seek federal funds instead of ratepayer dollars to fund climate change programs such as electric vehicle (EV) charge points, fast EV charging hubs, promotion of electric heat, and the proposed clean generation program.
About 1.2 million customers would be affected by the rate hikes, mainly in the Rochester, Central New York and Southern Tier areas as well as pockets of Upstate served by the two companies, which are subsidiaries of AVANGRID Inc.
“These revenue request increases, the largest in New York State history by percentage, would be shocking even if the upstate economy was healthy,” AARP volunteer and RG&E customer Patrick Fox said on behalf of AARP in written testimony he plans on delivering at a virtual public hearing on the proposals this evening. “But they come at a time of spikes in utility bills and high inflation. Utility bills are already unaffordable for many NYSEG and RG&E customers. Rapidly rising utility bills are not sustainable and will just drive more customers into arrears situations.”
Public hearings are underway throughout the state through October 18 on the proposed rate increases, which would take effect May 1, 2023.
AARP is urging all customers to call the PSC at 800-335-2120 and urge commissioners to reject NYSEG and RG&E’s proposed utility rate hikes and tell the companies to start over.
Comments can also be emailed to the PSC noting docket number 22-E-0317 using this link– https://documents.dps.ny.gov/public/Comments/PublicComments.aspx?MatterCaseNo=22-E-0319
AARP is the nation’s largest nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to empowering people 50 and older to choose how they live as they age. With a nationwide presence and nearly 38 million members, AARP strengthens communities and advocates for what matters most to families: health security, financial stability and personal fulfillment. AARP also produces the nation’s largest circulation publications: AARP The Magazine and AARP Bulletin. To learn more, visit www.aarp.org, www.aarp.org/espanol or follow @AARP, @AARPenEspanol and @AARPadvocates, @AliadosAdelante on social media.