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Public Service Commission approves settlement for rate hikes at RG&E and NYSEG

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 state has approved rate hikes that will affect customers of Rochester Gas and Electric and New York State Electric and Gas. Both are part of the energy company Avangrid.

The NYS Public Service Commission voted unanimously on Thursday to approve a proposed settlement of the rate hikes negotiated between the two utilities and the staff of the PSC. The settlement was first announced in June.

It is a three-year agreement, and it means that for the average RG&E customer, electricity rates will go up about 16% in total over those three years and 11% for natural gas customers.

But the PSC noted the settlement is about half of the utilities original request.

RG&E President and CEO Trish Nilsen said the plan that was approved “will allow us to make critical investments in our gas and electric infrastructure to improve reliability, expand our energy efficiency offerings, execute on important pilots to test new technologies to support our green energy future, and provide additional assistance to those who need it.”

According to RG&E and NYSEG the settlement will increase the average residential customer’s monthly bill by about $10, with customers starting to see the increase in November.

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But consumer groups have been critical of the settlement including the AARP in New York. The state director for that organization, Beth Finkel, referred to numbers on utility customers who are behind on their bills, and said that “clearly, too many New Yorkers already can’t afford their bills,” and said the rate increases “will only make matters worse for too many already-struggling New Yorkers.”

During the commission’s meeting on Thursday, Chair Rory Christian said that, “this is not a question of corporate greed, this is not a question of executives seeking to pad their pocketbooks, this is ultimately, investments made and us paying the bill for those investments.”

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.