AARP to Governor: Oppose Planned $1.2 Billion Con Ed Rate Hike

Posted on 12/11/19 by Andre Hidalgo

Gas Bill

Letter to Governor: Proposed Double-Digit Delivery Rate Hikes – Including 34% on Heating Gas – Unaffordable for Consumers

ALBANY, N.Y. – AARP New York today called on Governor Andrew Cuomo to oppose a planned $1.2 billion Consolidated Edison rate hike that would raise gas delivery rates by 25% to 34% and electric delivery rates by 16% over three years.
AARP New York State Director Beth Finkel sent a letter to the Governor urging him to oppose the three-year proposal developed by Con Edison and the staff of the utility-regulating State Public Service Commission (PSC).

Under the proposal, delivery rates on gas used for cooking would increase by 25% and on gas used for heating by 34%.

“These rate increases are unacceptable to AARP and are not supported by any organization representing residential ratepayers in New York State,” Finkel wrote to the Governor. “Utility affordability is and will continue to be a problem for hundreds of thousands of ratepayers in the Con Ed service territory if this proposal is approved as is.

“AARP respectfully requests that you oppose the current proposal and work to make it more affordable for the millions of residential rate payers in New York City and Westchester County.”

Con Edison customers consistently pay among the highest utility bills in the nation, and Finkel cited the large numbers of customers in arrears as evidence of an “affordability problem.”

AARP, which counts nearly one million members in the Con Edison service territory, also faulted the proposal for:

· Failing to require Con Edison to bring its “escalated complaint rate” – the proportion of complaints it is unable to resolve with the customer – down from more than double that of any other major utility company in New York to the statewide average.

· Requiring ratepayers to subsidize $39 million for electric vehicle charging stations.

· Including a one-time-only adjustment to help low-income families afford their bills – but failing to provide those customers any such assistance to cope with increases in the second and third years.

New York is among the minority of states without an independent utility consumer advocate.

AARP is separately calling on Governor Cuomo to sign into law a bill that would establish such an advocate for New Yorkers (S4399/A1966).

New York utility customers pay over $10 million a year to fund 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.

AARP does support the joint proposal’s funding increase for its 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 PSC 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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