Consolidated Edison (NYSE:ED)
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6 Months : From Apr 2019 to Oct 2019
By Acacia Coronado
New York residents and advocates voiced concerns about Consolidated Edison Inc.'s proposed electrical and natural-gas rate increases at a public hearing in Manhattan on Wednesday.
Con Edison, which provides electricity for 3.4 million customers and natural gas for 1.1 million clients in New York City and Westchester County, wants to add $485 million in electricity and $210 million in natural gas revenue in 2020.
The Public Service Commission, the state's utility regulator, is currently reviewing the proposal.
According to the company, New York City customers using 300 kilowatt-hours would see their bills increase an average of $4.45 to $81.78, or 5.8%. The bill for a Westchester County customer using 450 kilowatt-hours would increase $6.10 to $114.04, an increase of 5.7%. For a typical commercial customer using 10,800 kilowatt-hours, the monthly bill would increase $80.96 to $1,970.67, or 4.3%.
The average monthly bill for a residential gas customer would increase almost 11%, adding $17.28 for a total of $176.34.
The company said the rate rise would help fund safety measures, such as natural-gas detectors, optimize storm response time and replace 100 miles of gas main line each year. It also wants to develop new technology programs, such as a mapping system.
Chris Widelo, AARP's associate state director, said many members of the advocacy group for older adults think this is a terrible deal, because Con Edison customers already consistently pay some of the highest rates in the country.
"ConEd's proposal is especially harmful for smaller residential customers" Mr. Widelo said. "Those rates would be of the highest monthly charges in the nation and would discourage conservation."
Michael Clendenin, director of communications for Con Edison, said company officials will do "what we need to do to maintain the system that we have and make investments to meet the energy needs of our customers."
The proposal is currently a one-year increase, but Mr. Clendenin said he hoped to discuss the possibility of a multiyear increase plan with the Public Service Commission. It will ultimately be up to the discretion of the commission to determine the timeline and what will benefit customers.
Laurie Wheelock, counsel for the advocacy group Public Utility Law Project, questioned whether people could afford the increase. About 24% of seniors in the Bronx, 22% in Brooklyn and 18% in Manhattan live below the poverty line and many already have a hard time making utility payments, she said, citing statistics the group has gathered.
About 40 members of AARP attended Wednesday's hearing to rebuke the proposal. Grace Holder, who lives in Brooklyn, said she has financial concerns about the percentage increase.
"My job doesn't give me an increase every year, but I still need to pay my bills," she said.
Public comments will be accepted by phone and online until Sept. 30.
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
June 27, 2019 10:32 ET (14:32 GMT)
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