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POLL: Con Ed Seeks Rate Hike To Pay For Storm-Protection Work

Con Edison is seeking approval for a rate increase from the state Public Service Commission.
Con Edison is seeking approval for a rate increase from the state Public Service Commission. Photo Credit: File

WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N.Y. - Con Edison has asked the state Public Service Commission for a $375 million increase in the amount it collects from its customers to operate its electric delivery system, which if approved, would mean an average overall bill increase of about 3 percent for customers.

The proposed one-year delivery rates, which also include its gas and steam services, are meant to provide initial money for a storm-protection effort. The filing includes plans for approximately $800 million of storm-protection capital expenditures through 2016 for the electric system, including projects to move certain overhead distribution lines below ground, increase the height of flood walls for certain facilities, raise the level of critical equipment, install submersible equipment; install additional switches and related smart grid technology and reconfigure certain distribution networks.

The company also said it was looking to provide customers with more accurate, individual restoration times, as well as offering text messaging and other mobile communications for customers who prefer them.

For a typical Westchester residential customer, the monthly electric bill would rise from $114 to $118. The typical monthly bill for a small business would rise from $2,167 to $2,226.

For gas service, the filing also seeks an additional $25 million in revenue, which would result in an overall customer bill increase of about 1 percent. The typical monthly gas heating bill for a residential heating customer would rise from $188 to $190. Businesses would see an increase from $349 to $352 per month.

Con Ed officials say the gas revenue increase the company is seeking is due to infrastructure needs. These include the connection to a new gas transmission pipeline in lower Manhattan and the construction of a 10-mile gas main from the Bronx to White Plains to improve the safety and reliability of Con Edison's gas distribution system.

For steam service, the company is seeking a decrease of $5 million in revenue. The decrease would come in addition to an estimated $66 million in annual fuel cost savings as a result of the conversion of two Con Edison steam plants from burning fuel oil to burning natural gas. The combined effect is equivalent to an overall decrease in customers' bills of approximately 10 percent, according to Con Ed officials.

Con Edison delayed asking for the rate increase after Hurricane Sandy left hundreds of thousands of the company’s customers without power, many of them for as long as two weeks.

"Although the economy is improving, we are still working diligently to hold down costs for our customers," Con Edison President Craig Ivey said. "At the same time, the increased frequency and damage of storms assaulting our area presents a major challenge. We must invest in our systems in new ways to maintain the safe, reliable service our customers deserve."

The rate plans, subject to an 11-month review by the state Public Service Commission and other interested parties, would cover the period Jan.1 to Dec. 31, 2014.