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Con Ed zaps customers with 4.7% increase

Queens residents and elected officials are steaming mad at the state Public Service Commission’s (PSC) decision to grant Con Ed a 4.7 percent or $450 million rate hike. Starting next month, Con Ed customers throughout the borough can expect to see their bills increase by an average of $4.50 - one the biggest single increases in the utility giant’s history.
“The PSC has failed the people of New York once again,” said City Councilmember Eric Gioia, who represents western Queens. “It’s a broken system where Con Ed asks for an outrageous sum and the Public Service Commission settles by giving them just an absurd amount.”
Gioia, along with Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr. and Assemblymember Michael Gianaris, have blasted Con Ed for its handling of a 2006 blackout that left some residents and businesses in their districts without power for up to 10 days and cost millions of dollars in damages.
“Con Ed is a convicted felon who left this neighborhood in the dark for nine days, from which we still have not fully recovered,” said Vallone, who also mentioned a gas explosion that killed a Sunnyside woman in November of this year as another strike against Con Ed.
While the trio of Queens legislators offered harsh words for Con Ed, they were equally tough on the PSC for approving the increase.
“The PSC is now an accomplice to Con Edison in one of the most outrageous fleecings of ratepayers in modern memory,” Gianaris said. “To approve the highest rate increase in history without insisting on any of the dramatic reforms necessary to fix Con Edison’s management is the height of irresponsibility.”
However, the PSC responded that its ruling approves increases for necessary infrastructure improvements, increases inspections to detect stray voltage and implements customer service and reliability performance incentives.
“This decision balances the need to ensure safe and adequate service to customers while incenting needed infrastructure investment,” said Public Service Commission Chairman Gary Brown in a statement. “Customer interests were addressed, first and foremost, by minimizing the level of increase in rates over the next year, while at the same time helping to ensure customers receive a high level of service and reliability.”
Con Ed originally requested a nearly $1.2 billion rate increase, and previous reports had indicated the PSC might grant Con Ed as much as a $600 million increase.
Yet, Gianaris believes the $450 million increase does not guarantee improved service for customers and puts extra money in the pockets of Con Ed executives.
“This is nothing more than government-sanctioned highway robbery,” he said.

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