A series of public hearings has started which will help the New York State Public Service Commission decide whether to grant National Grid a rate increase.
The company is proposing 4% increases in electric service and 6% increases for gas service to start in July 2021. According to the utility, the rate hikes would allow it to make needed upgrades, modernize infrastructure, and integrate clean power sources into the power grid.
During the first public hearings Wednesday, supporters included business organizations arguing upgrades in the system are very important for economic development. Nonprofit groups commended the utility for being a community partner.
Opposing the idea are residents who say their bills are already too high, and environmental activists who are concerned that the increase will help fund expansion of a natural gas pipeline.
"The company is asking for real money to make real investments in unaffordable infrastructure," said Jessica Azulay with the Alliance for a Green Economy in Syracuse. "So the commission needs to send a real message to National Grid, no rate hikes and no gas expansion."
"The rate hike would generate approximately $140 million in new revenue for the company while increasing the average cost of electric bills by at least 6%," said PUSH Buffalo in a statement. "Buffalo tenants and National Grid customers will call on state elected officials and regulators to take immediate action to protect vulnerable communities."
PUSH Buffalo is holding a "press conference and speak out" on the issue Thursday at 10 a.m. at Buffalo Housing Court, 50 Delaware Ave. There are three more virtual public hearings on the rate hike over the next week. Information on accessing the virtual hearings can be found here.