Con Edison, the privately owned utility company that theoretically powers our city, has reportedly resolved to raise rates beginning January 1: Under the proposal, electric would go up 13 percent over the next three years, while gas would jump an astounding 25 percent. Hm well, at least you know you're getting solid and uniformly reliable service for all those extra dollars you're paying out; at least you know that this added, unavoidable expenditure will be Worth It in the long run!
Here is a breakdown of the average rate hikes, which would vary somewhat depending on customers' electricity and gas consumption. Most of you would be looking at a roughly 4.2% rise in 2020, followed by a 4.7% increase in 2021, and a 4% bump in your electric bills for 2022. As for gas, the average bill would jump 7.5% in 2020, 8.8% in 2021, and 7.2% in 2022.
Many people are displeased with this scheme, which stands to make already burdensome monthly payments significantly more expensive. AARP has already filed its grievances with the state Public Service Commission, pointing out that, as it stands, "tens of thousands" of customers find themselves unable to pay their utility bills and see their services cut every year.
"We think it’s an unfair rate hike,” AARP lobbyist Bill Ferris told the NY Daily News: “We have a problem in New York State with energy affordability.” With everything affordability, some would say!
Still, Con Ed loves to jack up your rates from time to time — invoicing you for the sum total of your bank account is one of its favorite things to do. In this way, it is truly a plague on all our houses, especially when its administrators decide to pull ill-timed shenanigans like deliberately cutting customers' power in the wake of consecutive, widespread blackouts; blackouts that arguably could've been avoided had the company not allegedly dragged its feet on drafting an extreme weather contingency plan for so many years. It would be reasonable to wonder what all these regular rate hikes are funding, if not a consistent (dare I say improved?) product. Should you feel so inclined, you could broach the question at the public hearing Con Ed will hold on Wednesday at 6 p.m. in the SUNY Global Center, located at 116 E 55th Street. The Sane Energy Project has also planned a press conference for Thursday, outside 90 Church Street, where the PSC will hold its monthly meeting. Sane wants the PSC to reject's Con Ed's proposal on grounds that, per a press release, it "invests hundreds of millions of ratepayer dollars in fracked gas infrastructure every year, which advocates say goes against state climate law and which will soon become stranded assets." Following the conference, they'll hold a silent protest. The whole bit will start at 9:30 a.m.
And yes, with all that in mind, here is your timely reminder that whenever one Privately Owned Utilities Company fails to uphold its end of the bargain and provide the dang services for which you pay it is the Right of the People to alter or abolish that Utilities Company and to institute a new Utilities Company. Which is to say, New Yorkers could stage a takeover and institute public power. It would probably be a little messy, but you know what they say: You have to break a few Con Eds to turn on your stove to make an omelette. Just something to think about.
Update: In a statement, a Con Ed spokesperson said: "This agreement reached with multiple outside parties, if approved, will allow for approximately $3 billion per year in electric and gas infrastructure investments to continue providing New Yorkers with safe and reliable service, while building the path to renewable energy and a cleaner environment. The plan provides $700 million for energy efficiency programs over the next three years to help people reduce usage and save money, offers incentives for electric vehicle charging, and helps encourage alternatives to natural gas for heating. The agreement includes programs to address the impact of climate change, and is essential to helping New York State achieve its clean energy goals."