Monticello, NY – County Manager Josh Potosek has submitted official comments on behalf of the Sullivan County Legislature regarding the rate increase requested by New York State Electric and Gas (NYSEG) earlier this summer. The New York State Public Service Commission (PSC) will hear public comments during several hearings in NYSEG’s service territory, and comments are also posted online at the PSC website.
NYSEG’s request for a rate increase is tied to improvements in several areas of service, including measures to improve the reliability and resiliency of electric service, improved emergency planning, new incentives for qualifying businesses to improve their energy efficiency, and the deployment of advanced technologies such as smart meters. The utility also proposes to make some changes to customer service, including closing walk-in offices such as the one in the Town of Liberty.
“The County’s point of view in commenting on the rate case has been, ‘What does this mean for our residents and businesses?’” said Potosek. “The proposed rate increase is estimated to add about $10 a month to most residential customers’ bills. We think this is exorbitant, but whatever rate increase the PSC ultimately approves, in the aggregate it will represent a lot of new revenue for NYSEG. So we have read carefully the various rate plans to examine how NYSEG will apply whatever rate increase they are granted towards improved services that will benefit our community as a whole.”
District 4 Legislator Catherine Owens, who chairs the Legislature’s Sustainability Committee, commented: “We experience a lot of multiple-day power outages in Sullivan County, most recently after winter storms Riley and Skylar in March 2018 and the May 2018 microburst event. Prolonged outages create dangerous situations for our residents and disrupt local businesses. We are happy that NYSEG recognizes this problem and wants to address a backlog of vegetation control and transmission hardening for storm resiliency, but we want to make sure they will add enough local crews to improve their emergency response significantly.”
“We are also concerned about NYSEG’s plans to close their walk-in office in Liberty as part of a general move to online services and a more automated approach to customer service,” said Luis Alvarez, Chairman of the Sullivan County Legislature. “In a County with 4,982 households that don’t have a computer, and 6,642 households that lack access to broadband, NYSEG must provide face-to-face customer service to ensure that the most vulnerable customers, including the elderly and low-income families, are not negatively affected.”
Rate case documents can be viewed at the Public Service Commission’s website at www.dps.ny.gov by clicking on “NYSEG Rate Case” in the electricity rate cases column. The case number is 19-E-0378. Members of the public can comment on the rate case via the website; by email by addressing comments to Kathleen H. Burgess, Secretary, at email@example.com; and by mail to Secretary Burgess at the Department of Public Service, Three Empire Plaza, Albany, New York 12223-1350. Comments should reference “NYSEG and RG&E Rate Cases (10-E-0378/19-G-0379 and 19-E-0380/10-G-0381.” The Public Service Commission also has a toll-free Opinion Line at 1-800-335-2120.
Public Statement Hearings are scheduled for Rochester (August 6), Keene Valley and Ithaca (August 14) and Binghamton (August 15).
Comments are requested by August 26, 2019 to ensure full consideration. All comments will become part of the record considered by the Commission.