The Scoop

Thiele Objects to Planned PSEG Long Island Rate Increases

PSEG Long Island and the Long Island Power Authority have submitted a rate plan proposal for the next three years, and New York State Assemblyman Fred Thiele is not happy with it.

The plan would increase the delivery charge for electricity by nearly 4% for the next three years, while homeowner’s total electric bills would increase 2%.

Thiele recalled what Governor Andrew Cuomo said in 2013 when the LIPA Reform Act was signed: “You have to operate the utility better. LIPA’s answer to everything is more money. We don’t have more money. You can’t keep putting your hand in the pocket of the ratepayers. That’s not the answer. The answer is, use the money you have better.”

Thiele said that in the 13 months since PSEG took over the operation of Long Island’s electric utility, “they have done nothing but put their hands in our pockets.

“While businesses, families, and government are all taking actions to cut their costs and operate more efficiently on Long Island to restore the economy, PSEG has reached its hand in our pockets at every opportunity,” Thiele continued. “Long Island already has among the highest utility rates in the nation, we can’t afford to send more of our money to Newark, New Jersey for electricity. The only thing PSEG is missing is a gun and a mask.”

PSEG says average homeowners—those who use 775 kilowatt hours of energy a month—will see their monthly bills go up $3.25 in 2016, and $3.30 in both 2017 and 2018.

PSEG’s revenue would increase $72 million each year if the New York State Department of Public Service approves the rate plan.

“With this filing, we are asking for the resources we believe are necessary to allow us to continue to improve the management, operations and maintenance of the electric utility, and to create a more resilient, modern and customer-responsive electric utility for our customers on Long Island and in the Rockaways,” a PSEG spokeswoman said Tuesday. “PSEG Long Island is committed to an open and transparent dialogue, something the people on Long Island have not had in the past.”

In its rate plan announcement, PSEG noted that J.D. Power and Associates said PSEG Long Island showed the most improvement in overall customer satisfaction of any large electric provider.

PSEG has been subject to a three-year rate freeze that began in 2013. Thiele notes that the fuel supply charge has risen during the freeze, and even more than the actual cost of fuel.

Thiele further criticized the rate plan by pointing out it does not account for PSEG’s Utility 2.0 Long-Range Plan and its revenue decoupling proposal, which he said could add $100 million in costs.

“Adding insult to injury is the fact that there is no real oversight or rate regulation over LIPA and PSEG,” Thiele said. “They can do whatever they want. Yes, there will be public hearings, the public can speak. However, in the end, there will be no accountability to the people of Long Island. This again is further proof that the LIPA Reform Act was a sham.”

He concluded, “Rates are up, debt is up, renewable energy is down. Everything that is up should be down and everything that is down should be up. This is what happens when you create an unregulated monopoly.”

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