After Con Ed attempted to raise our rates by an average of 4.7% last year, the state Public Service Commission responded with a rate freeze, which protected us from higher prices but also protected Con Ed from questions about why they need to jack up prices when their executives are swimming in money. Now Con Ed wants to increase your electricity bill by an average of 5.2%, and your gas bill by an average of 8.2%.

Oil and natural gas prices have plunged, but Con Ed says they need the extra $636 million to replace gas pipelines and install “smart meters.”

"We plan to implement a five-year smart meter modernization program that will reduce operating costs while significantly improving customer service and outage response," Craig Ivey, Con Ed’s president says in a release.

“The program is also a fundamental building block for incorporating customer-sited resources, like rooftop solar and other technologies, into the grid. The technology will give customers the tools to make economical and environmentally-sound energy choices. Our investments in gas delivery also will enhance safety and support growing demand for natural gas."

If Con Ed isn’t shaking you down, then National Grid is: they want to increase their customers’ bills by an average of 14%. Both of these increases would begin in 2017. The last time Con Ed increased its overall delivery rates was April of 2012.

The Public Service Commission will take the rest of the year to hold hearings and press the utilities on whether the increases are warranted.