Friday, June 10 2022

Legislation has been introduced in the state senate to create a moratorium on gas and electric company rate increases.

Sen. James Skoufis, D-Newburgh, is proposing a freeze on electricity and gas prices, rates and charges after a year in which many customers paid much higher costs. Skoufis’ bill would prevent companies that received an approved rate plan dating back to 2021 from raising rates for four years. Companies that did not increase their rates would see their rates frozen for two years.

“Residents of New York have experienced a huge increase in their gas and electric costs over the past winter,” Skoufis wrote in his legislative justification. “As of December 30, 2021, an estimated 935,931 state customers currently owed arrears worth more than $1.2 billion to utility companies, with the number of affected residents likely increasing since then. The legislation aims to address this serious problem by imposing a price freeze on current electricity and gas tariffs as well as a moratorium on tariff increases for 2 to 4 years, depending on whether a company has received an increase of the 2021 tariff on the date of entry into force of the legislation. ”

In early March, Skoufis said the Senate Government Investigations and Operations Committee, which he chairs, will look into the recent spike in utility bills. Skoufis said his committee would begin its investigation by requesting documents from utility companies, under threat of a subpoena, and give them a few weeks to provide them.

When the investigation is complete, the committee will recommend changes, including legislative and regulatory measures to be taken.

Skoufis said his investigation will determine whether utilities have done all they can for consumers. And it will answer these questions, among others:

“Have utilities used this crisis as an opportunity to profit? Were suppliers using this crisis as an opportunity to profit? » said Skoufis.

Experts said the increases were caused by a combination of cold Decembers and Januarys, greater demand for electricity and a reliance on electricity generated by power plants that burn natural gas, which is also experiencing cost spikes.

In addition, state policies promoting renewable energy from wind, solar and hydro power sources have yet to replace the 2,000 megawatts of electricity generated by the Indian Point nuclear power plant.

The plant, located in the village of Buchanan in Westchester County, generated about 25% of the metropolitan area’s electricity needs until it closed last year.

Skoufis also opposed a rate increase proposed by Orange and Rockland Utilities, which wants to increase its electricity delivery revenue by $24.5 million and its gas delivery revenue by nearly $10 million in over the next three years. In recent months, neighboring utility Central Hudson got the go-ahead from PSC in November on its own three-year rate plans, allowing the company’s power delivery revenue to jump by $16 million and revenue gas delivery to climb to nearly $12 million by 2024.

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