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Updated: Engel, Paulin React To Proposed Con Ed Hike

The utility company is seeking a 3 percent rate increase.

Con Edison, in the wake of extended outages caused by Hurricane Sandy, has applied for $400 million in rate increases—or 3 percent.

According to WCBS-TV, a typical bill for Westchester residents would rise from $114.41 to $118.

The utility company request has to go through the state Public Service Commission. If it's approved, the rate hikes will go into effect in January 2014, WCBS-TV said.

Con Ed spokesman Mike Clendenin was quoted by WCBS-TV as saying, “We want to really strengthen our systems, storm harden if you will, because of what we’ve been seeing over the past couple of years, ending with Sandy.”

Rep. Eliot Engel, D-District 16, who represents parts of Westchester County, was not pleased with the announced request.

He issued the following press release Monday:

Congressman Eliot Engel (D-NY-16) ripped Con Edison’s request for rate increases after their abysmal performance in restoring power in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. Close to a million customers in Westchester County and New York City lost power during that storm, and tens of thousands of them were without power for close to two weeks. Con Edison requested the raise, it said, to help pay for improvements and upgrades in their storm protection procedures. 

“Con Edison has some nerve asking New Yorkers to help them foot the bill for their incompetent preparation and inexcusable response time. It was a disgrace for the company to be unable to respond properly, especially after Hurricane Irene exposed their inadequacies a mere 12 months earlier.  Now, instead of digging deep into their own profits—or exploring the options presented by the federal government in the Sandy relief bill—they fall back on their old operating methodology of making the victim pay, in this case Con Edison customers. 

“New Yorkers already pay some of the highest rates in the country and have little to show for those exorbitant rates in the form of service dependability. When they have been in the most need, Con Edison has failed them and now adds insult to injury by asking for more money. The responsibility for Con Edison’s repeated failures lies with Con Edison, and should be handled by no one other than Con Edison. If they are incapable of handling this responsibility, perhaps that proves we need strong regulators with the teeth required to hold Con Edison, and other utilities responsible for their actions, or their failure to act.”

Assemblywoman Amy Paulin (D-88th District) also reacted to the utilty company's proposed hike. Here is her complete statement:

“Con Edison announced late last week it was seeking a rate hike to help cover the costs of implementing preventative measures in the event the area is hit by another Sandy-like storm.

As I begin to move forward and examine Con Ed’s proposed plan as it pertains to the rate hike, I do so with the thought that the any investments and improvements that are made to the infrastructure should not overburden the consumer. In addition, there should be a guarantee that any additional funds collected from the rate increase should be devoted solely to improving the infrastructure.

The wholesale price of natural gas and electricity is lower than it has been in years so it is understandable why questions regarding any rate increase would arise. Therefore it will be important that Con Ed make a strong case for how the proposed improvements are expected to make a difference when and if the next storm impacts the region.

I have worked hard in the past on the behalf of my constituents when they were impacted by a storm-related loss of power. As Energy Committee chair I will exhibit the same commitment to excellence where this and future energy-related matters are concerned in an attempt to keep help keep costs down while ensuring a better response from the provider.”

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Kim January 29, 2013 at 01:01 PM
How about we give them a raise AFTER the next disaster when they can prove that they can do the job. Just like in the real world. You get a raise when you perform well, not when you perform badly so that it can help you perform well. Only a monopoly would have that kind of logic.
Armand Keim January 29, 2013 at 01:49 PM
Two things. First Con Ed is already seeing a reduction in their costs becuase of the significant reduction in natural gas prices which reduces their cost of generating electricity. But if they get an increase the Public Service Commission should make sure that that the money is spent on effectively hardening the system.
Lisa Gentes-Hunt January 29, 2013 at 11:09 PM
It would be hard to pay a rate increase when we never saw refunds from Sandy...

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