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AARP to Governor Cuomo, Utility Regulators: Reject Proposed $1.2 Billion Con Ed Rate Hike

Gas Bill

Gas Delivery Rates Would Jump as Much as 40% Under Joint Proposal by Con Ed, State Regulatory Staff

ALBANY, N.Y. – AARP New York today urged Governor Andrew Cuomo and the state Public Service Commission (PSC) to reject a $1.2 billion Consolidated Edison rate hike agreement between the utility company and PSC staff – which would raise gas delivery rates by 25% to 40% and electric delivery rates by 15%.

“AARP urges Governor Cuomo and the Public Service Commission to reject this outrageous proposal by regulatory staff and Con Edison, which would pull $1.2 billion more out of already overburdened Con Ed customers’ pockets through double-digit gas and electric delivery rate hikes over the next three years,” said AARP New York State Director Beth Finkel. “A 40% increase on the delivery of gas to heat your home is simply unconscionable.”

Under the proposal, delivery rates on cooking gas would increase by 25% and on heating gas by 40%.

Utility affordability is a huge problem for New Yorkers; Con Edison charges some of the highest rates in the country, and this hike would especially exacerbate the problem for millions of moderate- and low-income customers who are already struggling to pay their utility bill.

About 300,000 residential Con Edison customers on average have been at least 60 days late paying their utility bills since 2014 – or about 10% of all customers. Around 30% of low income customers – an average of 127,263 – had arrears of more than 60 days from January 1, 2018, to March 2019, owing an average of $790. Another 23,501 elderly, blind or disabled customers were behind on their bills at least 60 days as of March 6, 2019.

And Con Edison’s “escalated complaint rate” – complaints the utility can’t resolve with the customer - was more than double that of any other major electric and gas utility company in the last five years. But the proposed settlement does not even require Con Edison to bring its escalated complaint rate down to the statewide average.

“This proposal ignores the PSC’s obligation to ‘ensure that utility rates are just and reasonable,’” added Finkel. “These increases far exceed the inflation rate not only for the previous three years but projected inflation for the next three years.

“This proposal is also a prime example of why the Governor should sign into law a bill establishing an independent utility consumer advocate for New Yorkers (S4399/A1966) – who already pay over $10 million a year to fund the expenses racked up by Con Edison and other utility companies to push for rate hikes. Essentially, ratepayers are paying their utility company to raise their own rates. Residential consumers need their own advocate to hire expert witnesses to counter the deep pockets of other parties – and challenge unfair rate hikes in court.”

What’s more, the proposal would force Con Edison ratepayers to pay $39 million to subsidize electric vehicle charging stations – a cost private companies should shoulder.

AARP does support the proposal’s funding increase for Con Edison’s low-income program and the company’s agreement to refrain from shutting off customers’ power for non-payment before, during and after extreme heat.

Nonetheless, AARP urges the state Public Service Commission to rewrite this proposal so as to achieve just and reasonable utility bills and reduce Con Edison’s escalated complaint rate.

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AARP is the nation’s largest nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to empowering Americans 50 and older to choose how they live as they age. With nearly 38 million members and offices in every state, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, AARP works to strengthen communities and advocate for what matters most to families with a focus on health security, financial stability and personal fulfillment. AARP also works for individuals in the marketplace by sparking new solutions and allowing carefully chosen, high-quality products and services to carry the AARP name. As a trusted source for news and information, AARP produces the world’s largest circulation publications, AARP The Magazine and AARP Bulletin. To learn more, visit www.aarp.org or follow @AARP and @AARPadvocates on social media.

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