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Queens Chronicle

Feds reverse approval of electric rate hikes

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Posted: Thursday, May 26, 2011 12:00 pm

   Con Edison customers will no longer have to worry about being socked with a double-digit rate increase this summer, thanks to state legislation quickly passed and signed in response to a federal bureaucratic decision, and the reversal of that decision.

   The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission had approved the increases, which would have raised bills 12 percent for residential customers and 17.5 percent for businesses — on top of Con Ed’s own 4 percent hike.

   The agency had determined that they would help the power-generating companies recoup the property taxes they pay in the city. But the FERC disregarded the property tax cuts the firms already get, so its decision will just produce a windfall of about $525 million for them, according to state Sen. Mike Gianaris (D-Astoria) and other lawmakers. They pushed the corrective bill through with the support of Gov. Cuomo and Mayor Bloomberg.

   “I’m glad this misguided rate hike has been reversed and proud that the state took swift action to save ratepayers millions of dollars,” Gianaris said in a prepared statement after the news was revealed. “Gov. Cuomo deserves thanks for working closely with those of us who were alarmed by the FERC decision to resolve the problem.”

   Rep. Joe Crowley (D-Queens and Bronx) was one of many other officials who agreed. Crowley had written a letter to the FERC chairman protesting the decision to allow the hikes, which the agency had made back in January. The letter was signed by all the other members of the House representing Queens, except for Rep. Nydia Velazquez (D-Queens and Brooklyn).

   “Families in Queens and the Bronx are struggling to make ends meet, and a spike in electricity prices on top of rising food, housing and gas prices would have made life even more difficult for them,” Crowley said in a press release applauding the reversal. “I salute Governor Cuomo and Mayor Bloomberg for their tireless efforts in working with the Legislature to pass this critical electricity relief bill and I am pleased to have been a part of the effort to stop these rate hikes before they were passed on to consumers this summer.”

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