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By Douglas Sciorra

Major electric utility seeks 22% price increase

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RG&E parent company brands request “Reliable Energy New York: Investing in Our Future”

A major utility provider in New York is asking for increases that are more than twice the rate of inflation. The main reasoning for the for request is to invest in infrastructure upgrades and modernize the grid for the expected increase in electric usage.

Here is the company public relations announcement:

New York State Electric & Gas (NYSEG) and Rochester Gas and Electric (RG&E), subsidiaries of AVANGRID, Inc. (NYSE: AGR), announced the companies have filed proposed changes to delivery rates with the New York State Public Service Commission (NYSPSC). The plans, titled “Reliable Energy New York: Investing in Our Future,” outline a proposal for each company that include infrastructure investments.

Under the “Reliable Energy NY” proposals, NYSEG and RG&E will replace aging infrastructure.

“Reliable Energy NY” proposes a rate structure that would add $10-18 to the average electric or gas residential customer’s monthly delivery costs, or a 13-22% increase on each total bill. New delivery rates are proposed to go into effect May 1, 2023. 

Key aspects of the “Reliable Energy NY” plans include investments in:

  • Reliability and resilience, which includes upgrades to critical infrastructure like substations to limit the impacts of increased flooding, installing more than 10,000 new, stronger poles a year and tree wire that can withstand more intense and more frequent storms, increased and smart tree trimming driven by data and analytics.
  • More customer resources including increased automated options to reflect our customers’ preferences for interacting with us, enhanced resources for customers who are elderly (typically on a fixed income) or are low-to-moderate income (LMI), and additional employees for our customer call centers to respond to customer questions and concerns. We will assist disadvantaged communities and LMI customers through focused energy efficiency program offerings, such as our ongoing collaboration and support of NYSERDA’s Empower Program, which promotes free energy audits and efficiency upgrades for income-eligible customers. We will provide ongoing referrals from our low-income billing assistance programs. Additionally, continued participation in the Statewide Affordable Energy Efficiency Multi-Family Program (AMEEP) will allow us to provide free energy audits and efficiency upgrades for low-income, multi-family dwellings.
  • Investments in smart technology including more grid automation tools to reduce outage impacts and manage outages remotely – these investments will mean that when outages do occur, they will be identified earlier and power can be restored faster and fewer customers will be affected. The plans also propose the development of an e-portal for municipalities to check on the status of service interruptions, impacts on critical facilities and restoration status, and investing in an automated customer communications system to ensure positive contact with customers who use life support equipment (LSE) during storms.
  • Enabling clean energy. The existing New York energy grid was not built with renewable energy sources in mind. That’s why we are proposing investments in smart technology that will improve reliability and enable us to connect more renewables, like wind and solar, to our system more effectively, efficiently and safely. In addition, our investments will help achieve emissions reductions through supporting electrification of buildings and transportation. The plans also propose procuring 11MW of company-owned battery storage and another 70MW of company-owned solar for low-income customers, supporting adoption of our Heat Pump Make-Ready program, and expanding EV infrastructure by 700% to support New York’s mandate of over 161,000 EVs in our service territories by 2025. Our low-income retail lighting program helps customers choose LED light bulbs over traditional or halogen incandescent bulbs through informational signage and discounts at big box stores and local retailers, as well as through LED bulb donations to area food banks. In our gas distribution business, we will continue our gas leak-prone pipe replacement programs while looking for opportunities to invest in green hydrogen and renewable natural gas blending.

Under the Public Service Law, the rates proposed in “Reliable Energy NY” are for a one-year period and will not immediately go into effect upon filing; the filing starts an 11-month process. The process includes a review of the filings by the Department of Public Service and other interested parties, questions to NYSEG and RG&E and, as appropriate, responsive testimony. During this process, we will seek to engage in discussions with parties regarding potential multi-year rate recovery of costs to mitigate annual impacts on customers.

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