Con Edison Wants Another Rate Hike

Utility: Rising Property Taxes, Costs Of Maintenance And Shrinking Demand Reasons Behind Unpopular Decision

Lawmaker Demands State Public Service Commission Step In

NEW YORK (CBS) ― Consolidated Edison wants to hit you again.

After socking city residents with the biggest one-time rate increase ever just six months ago, the utility has quietly asked state regulators for a another hike next year -- anywhere from 5.8 to 7.3 percent.

That's almost double the size of the last one.

Bob Murphy is your average Astoria homeowner -- hard working, active in the neighborhood and trying to make ends meet while raising four sons. But he has a powerful problem. Con Ed wants another rate hike.

"I'm totally outraged," Murphy said. "It's going to have an impact on everything that we do. We're already cutting back on other things, essentials."

Murphy already saw his Con Ed bill soar to over $200 a month after the utility raised rates last April, the highest single rate hike ever. And he's already cutting corners.

"We're going to cut down on electricity, absolutely. I mean I have to say that even now when it's getting a little chilly out I haven't yet put my gas on because I have to just give them an extra blanket," Murphy said.

This time the utility really wants to zap you. It wants an extra $819 million next year. Last April's hike was $425 million.

Con Ed already has the highest residential electricity rates of any utility in the 48 contiguous states with more than 50,000 customers.

* The average price-per-kilowatt hour in Chicago is 12.23 cents.

* In Los Angeles it's 11 cents.

* In Philadelphia it's 14.83 cents.

* In New York City, Con Ed charges 23.70 cents.

Assemblyman Michael Gianaris, D-Queen, regularly battles the utility. He said it is time for the state Public Service Commission, which has to approve the rate hike, to just say no.

"We know Con Edison has no shame," Gianaris said. "We know they don't care about their customers. We've been through this with them for year after year after year. The group that has to step up here is the Public Service Commission."

Con Ed spokesman Movahel Clendin defended the need for a rate hike, saying the utility is facing rising property taxes, higher costs for maintaining its system and will suffer economic loses because demand is going down.


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