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Bello to regulators: Deny RG&E’s rate hike request

Monroe County Executive Adam Bello
Max Schulte
Monroe County Executive Adam Bello

Monroe County Executive Adam Bello is asking state utilities regulators to deny a request by Rochester Gas and Electric to raise its electric and gas delivery rates.

The utility company is seeking approval to raise electric delivery rates by 19% and natural gas delivery rates by 20%. In a letter to the state Public Service Commission, Bello wrote that even in the best of times, those increases would be unrealistic.

“It is certainly not just and reasonable at this time and would compound the strain from the already escalating electricity and gas supply commodity costs,” Bello wrote. “The impact of inflation, challenges of the pandemic, and the company’s lack of reasonable service make this an impossible request.”
Bello also criticized the utility company for serious, ongoing billing problems; for poor customer service, and for arguing it needs rate increases to fund infrastructure investments. The utility earned a profit year after year but didn’t invest in its systems, he added.

“The current, principal owner has owned RG&E for nearly 15 years,” Bello wrote. “It is fair to assume that the company should have made the necessary investments to appropriately upgrade the distribution infrastructure to meet the demands of a 21st century electricity system.”

The county executive is also asking the commission to require RG&E to repay customers any late charges they incurred as the result of billing issues, to correct the billing issues, and to develop an infrastructure plan.

Additionally, he wants the commission to lodge substantial fines against the company if it fails to do those things.

In a statement released by RG&E late Friday afternoon, the company stood by its request.

"NYSEG and RG&E’s proposed plan will enable much needed investment in the Companies’ infrastructure, provide for a better customer experience, and provide benefits for the Companies’ most vulnerable customers" read the statement. "It also re-affirms the Companies’ commitment to build more economic, social, and environmentally sustainable communities throughout the areas we serve. In short, it will allow us to accomplish our top priority, which is to provide safe, reliable electric and natural gas service to our customers."

Jeremy Moule is a deputy editor with WXXI News. He also covers Monroe County.