Sept. 27, 2022 By Christian Murray
Dozens of elected leaders—including many from Queens—are calling on the New York State Public Service Commission (PSC) to hold another public hearing before deciding whether to allow Con Edison to hike electricity and gas bills next year.
More than 50 state officials led by State Sen. Mike Gianaris and Assemblymember Zohran Mamdani penned a letter to the PSC Monday demanding that it hold another hearing on Con Edison’s proposed rate hike that would raise the average customer’s overall electric bill by 11.2 percent and gas bill by 18.2 percent. The increases would take effect in 2023.
The officials say that the proposal would result in an extra $20.90 per month for electricity and $37.88 more per month for gas for the average customer. They say that most New Yorkers are unaware of the potential hike and there is a need for an additional public hearing.
“Working-class New Yorkers need another chance to be in heard in the course of this ongoing rate case which will determine whether the state accepts Con Edison’s proposal to increase already high utility rates,” the letter reads.
The letter, citing data from The City, said that more than 1.3 million New Yorkers are already behind on their utility bills, owing more than $1.7 billion. “As other household costs increase, the state cannot allow Con Edison to line their pockets while New Yorkers forgo basic needs to pay their utility bills.”
Con Edison, a publicly traded company, is calling for the increase in order to fund a $1.2 billion upgrade to its electric delivery system and a $500 million upgrade to its gas system. It is also planning to invest additional funds in renewable energy as it looks to reduce its use of fossil fuels.
Mamdani said that many residents know nothing about the looming hikes.
“An additional $60/month in Con Edison charges is something that my constituents simply cannot afford. Yet, when I canvass our neighbors about this rate case, I find that far too few of them have even heard of it.”
Mamdani is calling for a hearing and says that the hikes are motivated by corporate profit.
“New Yorkers deserve to have a place to testify how Con Edison’s corporate greed and continued funding of fossil fuel infrastructure could push them out of the neighborhoods they call home. We call on Governor Kathy Hochul’s Public Service Commission to grant us that,” Mamdani said.
Gianaris said that Con Edison customers need to be heard before the commission renders a decision.
“New York State must step in and let consumers have their say before allowing Con Edison to increase rates yet again,” Gianaris said.
Con Edison’s proposal primarily deals with hiking its delivery charges, one of the three main components—along with the supply charge and taxes—included in electric and gas bills.
Delivery charges are levied by Con Edison to maintain the system. The system transports the energy, through the use of wires, substations, towers, transistors and other related infrastructure.
The state, through the Public Service Commission, regulates the delivery rates, which Con Edison is looking to increase.
The second component is the supply charge, which changes based on the cost of fuel needed to run the generators. Con Edison is not permitted to make a profit on the supply cost.
The third component is property taxes, which Con Edison says it is required to pay $2.5 billion in 2023. Property taxes, according to the company, will account for approximately $180 million of the proposed increase in electric costs and $75 million of the proposed increase in gas costs.
The state officials argue that most New Yorkers aren’t getting their say on the potential hikes.
“While Con Edison is able to pay attorneys and lobbyists to fight for their interests, our constituents—working New Yorkers—have not been given an adequate seat at the table,” the letter reads. “We call on you to hold a public hearing immediately to give our constituents the chance to weigh in on a decision that will impact their lives deeply.”
Gianaris and Mamdani have been joined by several Queens legislators who have signed onto the letter. Other Queens officials include State Senators Jessica Ramos, Toby Ann Stavisky and John Liu, as well as Assemblymembers Nily Rozic, Andrew Hevesi, Brian Barnwell, Catalina Cruz, Clyde Vanel, David Weprin, Khaleel Anderson and Jessica González-Rojas.