Brooklyn Boro President Reynoso and 15 City Councilmembers Take On ConEd, which Suddenly Tripled its Bills

Brooklyn Boro President Reynoso and 15 City Councilmembers Take On ConEd, which Suddenly Tripled its Bills

By Yehudit Garmaise

When many Brooklynites and some residents in Queens saw their Con Ed bills double and triple, 15 City Council members and Brooklyn borough president Antonio Reynoso came together to sign a letter to the chairman of the New York State Public Service Commission (PSC), Rory Christian, to ask him to decline to approve “ConEd’s rate hike without significant reductions,” the letter said.

ConEd, nor the PSC, however, wants to take responsibility for the increase in prices that are causing many Brooklyn residents to fear whether they can pay their bills and stay in their current apartments.

“We received dozens of complaints from neighbors who were blindsided by a doubling or tripling of their ConEdison bills,” tweeted City Councilman Lincoln Restler, who represents the 33rd District, which includes Williamsburg. “We organized colleagues in Brooklyn to push back and call on the New York State PSC to take immediate action.”

One Brooklyn tenant reported that her ConEd bill for her 500 square foot studio apartment had suddenly spiked up to $450: a price that would not allow her to also pay her rent, the letter said.

The 16 elected officials, who were so distressed by the influx of calls of from residents who report that the sudden price hikes to their utilities could cause them to have to move, that city and state leaders demanded on Tuesday that the PSC direct the Department of Public Service to investigate the suddenly steep rate increases that came without warning.

Con Ed spokesman Jamie McShane hit back when he told the NY Daily News that “Con Edison does not generate electricity, nor can we manage the financial practices of the private power generators or the suppliers of the natural gas.”

McShane blamed ConEd’s high prices on high winter demand for natural gas and fluctuations in the global energy market.

The elected officials acknowledged in their letter that they “understand the sudden increase in electricity costs reflect the fluctuations in the market price of natural gas,” but they claimed that utilities are supposed to limit the “swings in supply costs.”

“The extreme overnight increases in our constituents’ energy bills are simply outrageous,” said Restler. “It’s the commission’s job to protect New Yorkers when utility companies try to pass on fluctuations in the marketplace onto consumers, and we urgently need the PSC to intervene.”

Although the letter writers insisted that the PSC ensure that utilities keep prices low and fair, and “begin comprehensively regulating energy suppliers,” James Denn, a PSC spokesperson said that the commission “does not regulate commodity or supply prices” and that utilities “do not set supply costs and do not make a profit on the supply.”

No one wants to take the blame for the precipitous price hikes, but for energy that costs less in the future, McShane said, ConEd is working to “generate renewable energy, which would shift our dependence away from natural gas and this volatility.”

In a tweet, Councilman Restler encouraged all constituents to report their distress that their ConEd bills are causing: on the Department of Public Service’s complaint line (800) 342-3377.

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