State Senator George Onorato (d-queens) Has Submitted The Following Formal Comments To The New York State Public Service Commission Regarding The $1.225 Billion Electric Rate Increase Request Submitted By Consolidated Edison:
January 23, 2008
Jaclyn A. Brilling
New York State Public
Three Empire State Plaza
Albany, NY 12223-1350
RE: Case 07-E-0523 Consolidated Edison of New York, Inc. -- Rates
Dear Secretary Brilling:
I am writing to express my strong opposition to the $1.225 billion electric rate hike request submitted to the Public Service Commission by Consolidated Edison of New York, Inc.
Not only is the rate hike the largest increase ever requested by the utility, but it is unconscionable that this company, given its horrific performance record in recent years and its already sky-high electric rates, would even contemplate saddling the ratepaying public with such a high price for its own incompetence.
As the State Senate representative from Western Queens, I do not need to remind the Public Service Commission of the nine-day blackout in July, 2006 that so devastated the communities I serve. The impact on our local business community and on individual families and residents was severe, and certainly demonstrated -- in the most horrific ways -- the great inadequacies of Consolidated Edison's management, performance and infrastructure. Other serious Consolidated Edison failures -- including exploding manhole covers, the fatal steampipe explosion, and other tragic events -- certainly do not provide me, or my constituents, with any reason to support this extraordinary rate hike request.
I am aware that the Public Service Commission staff, as well as the panel of administrative law judges reviewing the rate hike proposal, have suggested that the $1.225 billion increase in electric rates be cut at least in half. While this is certainly an improvement over Consolidated Edison's over-the-top proposal, I still believe that an increase of more than $600 million is much too heavy a burden for ratepayers to bear. Many members of our business community suffered enormous losses during the blackout, and many other constituents lost major appliances and other expensive household items as they sweltered for nine days in the darkness and heat. To ask them to pick up this tab, as well, is simply out of the question.
I certainly do not question that Consolidated Edison needs to significantly improve its infrastructure, particularly in the Long Island City and Western Queens area, although I am still outraged that the system was able to break down into this very dangerous and highly inefficient state of disrepair throughout the years. At the very least, this company needs a great deal more governmental oversight to improve, and be held accountable for, its indefensibly bad performance. I would urge that the Public Service Commission, under any circumstances, perform regular audits and performance and maintenance reviews of this utility.
I appreciate the opportunity to express my views on this issue of extreme importance to my constituents and other Consolidated Edison ratepayers throughout New York. In closing, please let me reiterate my very strong opposition to the $1.225 billion rate hike request sought by this company.
State Senator, 12th District