Assemblymember Kelles Rejects NYSEG Rate Increases

Ithaca, NY – Assemblymember Anna Kelles, along with local elected officials and concerned citizens of the 125th Assembly District, rejected the proposed rate increases of NYSEG in a press conference today held at the Tompkins County Legislature Building in Ithaca.Representatives called on Gov. Hochul to reject NYSEG’s proposal and encouraged constituents to participate in public hearings and public comment periods. 

New York State Electric and Gas (NYSEG) released proposed rate hikes on June 14, with electric delivery rates increasing 17% each year for the next 3 years, with a compounding effect of a 62% overall increase. Gas delivery rates are proposed to increase 5.6% each year for the next 3 years, with a compounding effect of a 17.8% overall increase.[1] NYSEG controls delivery costs while energy markets dictate commodity (or supply) costs. What is critical for ratepayers to understand is that NYSEG’s public release of their 3 year total rate hike increases of 22.1% for electric and 6.1% for gas are misleading because it includes the estimated supply costs, thereby diluting the company’s true rate increases on the actual delivery costs that they control. 

The impact of the proposed rate hikes is exacerbated by management and billing issues, resulting in customers experiencing double billing, faulty meter readings, inexplicably high bills, and poor and often unnavigable customer service. NYSEG and Rochester Gas and Electric (RG&E) together supply power to a population of approximately 3.7 million people in upstate New York. Customers in NYSEG service areas have no choice on their electric and gas suppliers, creating a complete monopoly for NYSEG to set terms and conditions of service. 

Assemblymember Anna Kelles states, “As New Yorkers are struggling under the burdens of inflation and increased housing costs, the rate increases are unconscionable and should be denied. Given the company’s track record with delivery and service issues combined with record level dividends to shareholders, NYSEG leadership needs to focus on fixing their egregious billing errors and rebuilding the trust of its customers rather than prioritizing executive salaries and catering to shareholders. Now is not the time for crippling rate hikes for families and individuals, especially for the many in upstate New York who live on fixed incomes.” 

Senator Lea Webb also held a press conference in Binghamton today, rejecting the rate increases. 

“Access to electricity and heat should not be considered a luxury. They are basic needs every family utilizes in their home and small businesses every day,” said Senator Lea Webb. “To see utility companies like NYSEG not address that need and propose double-digit price hikes to their services is deeply disappointing. Many households and small businesses are only just beginning to find financial stability in the post-COVID era. We must empower and uplift working families and small businesses, not continue to create more financial barriers as they struggle to make ends meet. I urge the community to make their voices heard by sharing their experiences during the public comment period.”

“After a year of negotiations, it’s hard to see any benefit to the utility customers. The proposed rate hikes are unaffordable to the point of being unconscionable.Meanwhile, billing problems still exist, the companies have not committed to reduce their customers' fossil fuel use or greenhouse gas emissions, and they have not made any specific plans to address impacts on disadvantaged communities as required by our State’s climate law,” said Irene Weiser, coordinator of Fossil Free Tompkins. “It is outrageous that the Governor’s regulators co-signed this proposal to raise rates this high instead of siding with consumer advocates to send the utility back to file a proper and reasonable proposal.We call on Governor Hochul to intervene and deny this rate hike.”

"The residents of Cortland appreciate the hard work and leadership of both Assemblymember Kelles and Senator Webb pushing back against the rate hike and poor management of NYSEG,” says Beau Harbin, Cortland County Legislator and Minority Leader. “The increase in costs due to inflation has had a significant impact on our residents who live with fixed incomes.To further burden our residents with a rate hike because of NYSEG's poor management, billing errors and general lack of accountability is totally unacceptable. "

[1] Appendix A of the Joint Proposalpg 96