Sullivan County concerned with proposed NYSEG rate increase

MONTICELLO – Sullivan County Manager Josh Potosek has submitted official comments on behalf of the county legislature regarding the rate increase requested by New York State Electric and Gas earlier this summer.

The New York State Public Service Commission will hear public comments during several hearings in NYSEG’s service territory, and comments are also posted online at the PSC website.

NYSEG’s request for a rate increase is tied to improvements in several areas of service, including measures to improve the reliability and resiliency of electric service, improved emergency planning, new incentives for qualifying businesses to improve their energy efficiency, and the deployment of advanced technologies such as smart meters.

The utility also proposes to make some changes to customer service, including closing walk-in offices including the one in the Town of Liberty.

“The County’s point of view in commenting on the rate case has been, ‘What does this mean for our residents and businesses?’” said Potosek.  “The proposed rate increase is estimated to add about $10 a month to most residential customers’ bills. We think this is exorbitant, but whatever rate increase the PSC ultimately approves, in the aggregate it will represent a lot of new revenue for NYSEG. So we have read carefully the various rate plans to examine how NYSEG will apply whatever rate increase they are granted towards improved services that will benefit our community as a whole.”

District 4 Legislator Catherine Owens, who chairs the legislature’s Sustainability Committee, said the county experiences “a lot of multiple-day power outages,” most recently after winter storms Riley and Skylar in March 2018 and the May 2018 microburst event.

“Prolonged outages create dangerous situations for our residents and disrupt local businesses,” Owens said. We are happy that NYSEG recognizes this problem and wants to address a backlog of vegetation control and transmission hardening for storm resiliency, but we want to make sure they will add enough local crews to improve their emergency response significantly.”

“We are also concerned about NYSEG’s plans to close their walk-in office in Liberty as part of a general move to online services and a more automated approach to customer service,” said legislature Chairman Luis Alvarez. “In a county with 4,982 households that don’t have a computer, and 6,642 households that lack access to broadband, NYSEG must provide face-to-face customer service to ensure that the most vulnerable customers, including the elderly and low-income families, are not negatively affected.”

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