ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Rochester Mayor Malik Evans says the city will not lead the exploration of creating a public utility.

This comes as advocates challenging Rochester Gas & Electric’s proposed rate hike say Evans backed out of a meeting on the subject.

Evans says the city can't independently fund a $500,000 public utility study.

He says that if a broader group of state and local officials convenes for it, the city will be at the table.

Mayor Evans released the following statement on the matter:

“The team at the City of Rochester has heard and understands the interest of some community members to explore the creation of a public utility. The citizens of Rochester need relief from the erratic and skyrocketing costs of heat and electricity, and a public utility is one option that may address this challenge.

"However, the City of Rochester cannot independently fund a $500,000 Public Utility Study that would involve a regional geographic area. Any conversations related to this matter must be held with multiple government agencies including towns, counties and New York State. As one of the poorest municipalities in the state, the City of Rochester alone should not be expected to shoulder these costs.

"When a broader group convenes to discuss the creation of a public utility, leadership from the City of Rochester will be at that table. In the meantime, the City is not in a position to lead or finance this exploration alone.”

The Rochester group Metro Justice has been particularly vocal in its opposition to RG&E's proposed rate hikes and supports the calls for a public takeover of the company.

Avangrid, the parent company of RG&E, released this statement in response:

"We remain committed to meeting with Metro Justice on their concerns and are working on mutually agreeable logistics for a future meeting. We will stress, as we have repeatedly done, how RG&E following severe COVID impacts, is adding hundreds of new staff to the more than 800 workers in Rochester alone, combatting rising supply rates by providing millions of dollars in relief to customers impacted by increase in rates set by out of state energy suppliers, suspending late payment charges, and since 2019 invested over $11 million in economic development. We will work directly with Metro Justice to clear up any misinformation to ensure all residents have the facts on how RG&E is making significant improvements to customer service, investing in the community, creating jobs and providing safe, reliable, and affordable energy to Rochester residents."