Public hearings scheduled concerning National Grid rate hikes

Posted at 10:29 PM, Jul 31, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-01 18:47:15-04

New Yorkers will have an opportunity to voice their opinion on National Grid's proposed rate hikes.

The New York State Public Service Commission (PSC) announced it would hold public statement hearings and seek public comment concerning National Grid's proposed changes.

The company has filed revised amendments, proposing to increase its annual electric and gas delivery revenues effective April 1, 2018.

According to the Commission, National Grid proposes to increase its electric delivery revenues by approximately $261 million and to increase its natural gas delivery revenues by approximately $70 million. If approved, residential customers may see their bills increase by 11 percent.

National Grid has previously issued this statement on the proposed rate hikes:

"We have worked hard to keep our delivery prices stable for more than a decade while investing more than $6 billion to improve the reliability and resiliency of our delivery system. We filed our one-year proposal, required by law, with the hope that we can lessen bill impacts through a multi-year agreement while also significantly increasing programs that support those who struggle to pay their bills. We expect to serve 50,000 more customers through our new energy affordability programs -- that's on top of the 120,000 customers who benefit from our programs today."

Customers in Western New York can attend an information session and public statement hearing on August 1, located at the Buffalo and Erie County Public Library, Gallery Conference Room. Information sessions will be at 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. Public statement hearings will be at 3 p.m. and 7 p.m.

For those who cannot attend or prefer not to speak at a public statement hearing, comments can be submitted via internet or mail.

There is already strong opposition to the idea coming from community-based PUSH Buffalo and AARP.  Members argue the rate hike will hurt low and fixed income families because of a trickle down effect that will impact monthly rent and store prices.  

Push Buffalo claims 66,000 people in Buffalo had electricity shut off over the past three years for lack of payment.  Those who had electricity restored had to pay a service fee and interest on past due amounts.

PUSH Buffalo believes any rate hike should be tied to development of community solar systems that could help reduce electric bills for low income areas.

7 Eyewitness News Reporter Ed Reilly spent the day talking to people about the proposed rate hike.

National Grid said it needs the money to upgrade its system and harden it against future destructive storms.  The utility said the rate hike would also fund the creation of an additional $50 million to help people who are struggling to pay.

During its presentation to the PSC, National Grid said it would be willing to spread the increase over three years to minimize the impact on its customers.