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Monroe County Legislature President adds her voice to those calling for change at RG&E

The RG&E station behind the convention center and next to the Broad Street Bridge.
Max Schulte
The RG&E station behind the convention center and next to the Broad Street Bridge.

The President of the Monroe County Legislature is adding her voice to local officials who are speaking out against double-digit utility hikes proposed by Rochester Gas and Electric.

Sabrina LaMar said on Tuesday that the proposed increases of more than 20% for electric rates and nearly 19% for natural gas customers are unacceptable.

LaMar said combined, that would result in an annual bill increase of nearly $260 for an average residential customer, something she said “is unacceptable, especially for the many poor and working-class customers I represent.”

LaMar said she has received hundreds of emails from constituents complaining about the utility, calling their customer service “abysmal.”

LaMar is calling on the New York State Public Service Commission to reject the rate hike requests, also noting that the PSC has been investigating billing problems at RG&E.

The county legislature president is also pushing for the New York State Legislature to allocate $1.5 million to fund a study to determine the feasibility of transforming RG&E into a public utility, which is something that some local advocates have been talking about as well.

County Executive Adam Bello recently asked the state to deny the rate hike request, and Mayor Malik Evans and Rochester City Council want the PSC to do a study to evaluate a potential takeover of RG&E.

Late Tuesday, RG&E issued a statement in response to LaMar’s comments and the recent controversy, saying that it has “made significant progress in addressing billing issues by hiring hundreds of new staff, greatly reducing wait times and improving accuracy of customer bills. These actions along with providing millions of dollars in relief to customers impacted by rising rates, suspending late payment charges, and invested over $11 million in economic development in just a few years, shows the dedication of our committed staff.”

RG&E said that the proposal for a publicly controlled utility would do “nothing to improve service or reliability, but rather puts taxpayers on the hook for billions of dollars while raising rates, jeopardizing needed grid improvements and halting any transition to clean energy.”

Randy Gorbman is WXXI's director of news and public affairs. Randy manages the day-to-day operations of WXXI News on radio, television, and online.