Rochester Gas and Electric customers are voicing their concerns on proposed rate hikes that would increase average customer delivery charges by 5.4 percent.
Dozens of people went to Rochester City Hall on Tuesday to express their frustrations on many topics in addition to the proposed hike. Customers were given three minutes to make their statements.
Many people made signs that read “No Shut Offs.” Another sign even expressed a need for affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all.
The rate case hearing must be held when utility companies in New York want to raise rates and are required to seek approval from the Public Service Commission. RG&E shared at the meeting that if its rate proposal is approved, the average rate monthly bill for typical residential customers will increase by approximately $2.86 for electric and $1.56 for gas.
Individuals from the community and organizations are provided the opportunity at the rate case hearings to voice their concerns, hoping what they had to say might influence the outcome in the rate hike process.
Tara Cain of Rochester says she is not in favor of the proposed rate hikes.
"It shouldn't go through," said Cain. "I don't think it should and I'm going to fight every day if I got to come back tomorow because this is not right and this is not fair."
Sonya Tisdal of Rochester expressed concern for how a rate hike may impact low-income families finding difficulty keeping up with their payments.
"For low-income families; that you would wipe out those back bills that [are] so high right now," said Tisdal. "That people can't even pay even when you offer a payment agreement a month with your bill added to it."
The rate hike hearings came to a close Tuesday evening. The crowd in attendance challenged RG&E and NSYEG with a chant saying, "Do your job, do your job."
A statement released by RG&E on Tuesday reads:
“The RG&E and NYSEG rate case proposals are designed so that each company has the resources necessary to best serve our customers. Severe weather events, which have greatly impacted both service areas, have increased both in severity and frequency. Together, the companies experienced 165 major storms between 2012 and 2018, leading to regular customer outages. The filings seek to address this by making the investments necessary to provide customers with a more reliable and resilient electric system. Likewise, it also seeks to implement a comprehensive vegetation management program to address the impact that overgrown trees have on system reliability. More than half of RG&E and NYSEG’s combined outages are caused by trees or branches contacting wire and other electric equipment. If approved, the plans would help reduce the number of customers that experience outages and assist inexpediently restoring power after a significant event."
RG&E customers can still submit written comments here or by sending an email to email@example.com. Written comments can be mailed to Honorable Kathleen H. Burgess, Secretary, Public Service Commission, 3 Empire State Plaza, Albany, NY 12223-1350. Comments can also be submitted by calling 1-800-335-2120.