On January 25, Con Ed filed for a rate increase with the NY State Public Service Commission to increase customer distribution rates beginning in 2014. For residents and small businesses, this increase will amount to a 3.5% increase on their electric bills. The same day, Con Ed also requested a 1.4% rate increase for natural gas from customers that use this energy source to heat their homes. This increase would bring in about $25 million to the utility.
Con Ed says the electricity distribution rate increase –which amounts to about $375 million— is necessary in order to recover costs from Sandy as well as to help pay for infrastructure upgrades that will improve the company’s reliability during harsh weather, including flood-proofing and reinforcing or burying power lines.
Con Ed was severely criticized after the 2012 storm pounded the East Coast, when nearly a million customers were left without power, many for days and weeks.
New York residents and small businesses already pay about 50% more than the U.S. city average, and the requested increase is seen as a slap in the face to many NY citizens that are still struggling to rebuild their lives after the devastation caused by Sandy. Residents and some politicians are left wondering why Con Ed hadn’t made these upgrades years ago, claiming that the highly profitable company is more concerned with its shareholders than its customers.
If the rate increase is passed, citizens can’t really do anything to avoid the distribution fees. Residents and small businesses, however, are still able to save on the supply portion of their bills by shopping around for a retail electricity provider serving the Con Ed area.