Con Ed is petitioning the state’s Public Service Commission to approve an electricity rate hike and a gas rate hike for New York City and Westchester county consumers. The $400 million in additional funds would be used to better storm-proof the New York electricity infrastructure; doing such things as burying overhead transmission lines and upgrading gas system equipment. $25 million of the $400 million would come from rate increases on gas service.
This is despite the fact that New York’s electricity rates are already the highest of any state in the country with the exception of Hawaii. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, New Yorkers pay on average 18.26 cents per kwh as of March 2013. This is compared to a national average of 11.59 cents. Although, savvy consumers who live in areas open to electric choice can usually find much better rates.
Consolidated Edison, the utility responsible for the transmission and delivery of power to the New York City area, has been the target of criticism lately from labor unions, green energy advocates, and New Yorkers who are unhappy with the company’s handling of the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.
The unionized utility workers claim that Con Edison’s ability to ensure safe and reliable electric service has been compromised by recent massive cuts in labor. According to the union, the utility isn’t investing in maintenance and prevention but rather scrambling from one emergency fix to another. The also claim that it wasn’t prepared for Hurricane Sandy because of it’s labor issues and the resulting lockout last year.
In the company’s letter to the Public Service Commission they point out that their proposed rate filing for November of 2012 was postponed in other that they might focus their attention on the aftermath of Sandy.
Specifically with regard to future improvements meant to mitigate the impact of future storms, the filing says this:
“We have identified several strategies based on our own recent experience, as well as our understanding of several preliminary recommendations made by new commissions established by Governor Cuomo following Superstorm Sandy. Our plans include strategic undergrounding and flood protection projects, including flood walls for certain electric and steam equipment, raising critical equipment in light of higher potential flood levels, upgrading gas system equipment, and accelerating installation of submersible equipment, where appropriate.”