Westchester residents will have their chance to comment on NYSEG’s proposed rate increases next month at Yorktown Town Hall.
Originally, no such hearings were scheduled to take place in the Hudson Valley. In fact, the closest hearing was held about 150 miles away in Binghamton.
However, the New York State Public Service Commission added the hearing in Yorktown following an appeal from Town Supervisor Ilan Gilbert.
“The fact that you failed to consider holding a public statement hearing in our area is indicative of how our portion of the NYSEG service territory is regarded,” Gilbert wrote to the commission on July 30. In his letter, Gilbert specifically requested a hearing in Yorktown in September.
On Monday, the Public Service Commission gave Gilbert his wish, announcing a newly scheduled meeting at Yorktown Town Hall (363 Underhill Ave., Yorktown Heights). The information session portion of the meeting will begin at 6 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 5. The public hearing will follow at 7 p.m.
According to reports, NYSEG has applied to the Public Service Commission for a 23.7 percent increase in electrical delivery revenues, which would raise a customer’s average monthly bill by $10.17 to about $53.
If approved, the new rate would take effect next May. NYSEG, in its filing, said the driving factors behind the increase are mostly employee-related (salary, benefits, pension) and plant-related (vegetation management).
Though much of its coverage area is in western and northern New York, NYSEG’s reach extends to Bedford, Lewisboro, Mahopac, North Salem, Somers and Yorktown.
A series of public hearings on the proposed rate hike was scheduled to be held from Aug. 6 to Aug. 15. Hearings were also held in Rochester; Keene Valley, in the Adirondacks; and Ithaca.
“We have no idea if the increase based on the amount of kilowatt hour (kwh) of electricity we use or part of the flat fee rate for just having service,” North Salem Supervisor Warren Lucas said. “A 20 percent increase percentage is high and equates to about a penny more per kwh of electricity.
“NYSEG is the cheapest utility in the state with regards to the cost of electricity delivery, about 4.9 cents a kilowatt hour,” Lucas continued. “While NYSEG has been spending money to improve service in the area, this work should have been done years ago. Let’s see them stabilize the network and then we can discuss increases in the delivery charges.”
Gilbert’s appeal to the Public Service Commission was supported by other local town leaders, including Bedford Supervisor Chris Burdick.
“The public needs to have an opportunity to more conveniently express their views and participate in the process,” said Burdick. “We are at the southern end of [NYSEG’s] territory, so I think that we’re concerned that we’re going to get ignored.”
Lewisboro Supervisor Peter Parsons said he agreed with Gilbert’s sentiment on the public hearings but he supports the proposed rate hike.
“Most of the towns in northern Westchester have been complaining long and loud about NYSEG’s failure to deliver power,” Parsons said. “The proposed increases attempt to address this problem by increasing vegetation removal.”
Somers Supervisor Rick Morrissey said NYSEG’s initial meeting schedule was “insulting” to its downstate customers.
“They should prove their ability to provide consistent services before a rate increase should even be considered,” Morrissey said.