By Karen Frantz
Consolidated Edison is proposing rate increases for its customers that it says would help allay the costs of protecting equipment against severe storms such as Hurricane Sandy, but City Council Speaker Christine Quinn (D-Manhattan) said this week she was deeply troubled by the plan.
“Many New Yorkers are still recovering from the effects of Hurricane Sandy,” Quinn said in a letter to Con Edison President Craig Ivey and CEO Kevin Burke Sunday. “For a private company that New York City relies on for vital services to propose a rate increase now is a burden on city residents and an impediment to the recovery process.”
In the letter she asked to see a comprehensive plan to pay for the improvements that do not include rate increases.
Con Ed supplies electric and gas service to much of Queens, with more than 737,000 electrical and more than 203,000 gas customers in the borough. Many of those customers were plunged into darkness after Hurricane Sandy hit, with thousands of customers still without power a week and a half after the storm.
Con Ed does not supply power to the Rockaways, which is serviced by the Long Island Power Authority.
In the plan submitted to the state Public Service Commission Friday, Con Ed called for $1 billion in investments through 2016. The investments would help fund projects such as putting flood-proof equipment in low-lying areas, building higher flood walls around facilities, reinforcing overhead equipment and burying some overhead lines underground to limit power outages.
The company proposed the rate hikes, which would go into effect in 2014, in order to help pay for those projects. Under the proposal, electric bills would go up by an average of 3.3 percent and gas bills would go up by 1.3 percent, bringing in $400 million in extra revenue.
That means a typical electric bill for a New York City resident would rise from $81.64 to $84.55 and a typical gas bill would go from $187.68 to $190.35.
The utility said the rate increases it is seeking are the smallest in several years, and Ivey said the company was working hard to hold down costs for its customers.
But, he added, “The increased frequency and damage of storms assaulting our area presents a major challenge. We must invest in our systems in new ways to maintain the safe, reliable service our customers deserve.”
The plan would need to be approved by the Public Service Commission before it would go into effect.
The utility said it delayed submitting the new rate plans because it was focused on recovery from Hurricane Sandy.
Reach reporter Karen Frantz by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-260-4538.