Consumers scored a partial win when the Public Service Commission voted June 17 to extend its freeze on Con Edison electricity rates for another year. That means whatever you pay now is what you’ll be paying through the end of 2016, excepting fluctuations in the price of electricity generation.
On the upside: The Commission’s decision kills the company’s request in January for a rate hike that would have jacked up retail customers’ electric bills by 3.2 percent. That would have brought the typical 300 kilowatt hour monthly bill — about the power used by a New York City apartment — from $82.06 to $85.94.
For now, that 300 kilowatt bill will stay at $82.06.
On the downside: The Commission put off an opportunity to go over the company’s books and look for ways to save consumers money. The decision also leaves unaddressed issues of whether the company’s shareholders profit more than they should from the company’s electric operations.
Mayor de Blasio’s administration supported extending the rate freeze in a filing with the Commission last week. “Perhaps most significantly, there generally will not be any bill impact for New York City customers as a result of the settlement,” the filing said.
The city and environmental groups also appreciated that as part of the settlement, the Commission agreed that Con Ed could spend $68.5 million on its effort to install advanced electric meters in homes and businesses across its service area. Advanced electric meters will let you closely monitor your electric use. That should make it easier for you to figure out how to save money by adjusting your air conditioner, or switching appliances on or off.
The advanced meters will also alert Con Ed more quickly about power outages. The company may find that handy. In another decision June 17, the Commission fined the company $5 million because it failed to fix electric outages quickly enough. According to Con Ed’s own data, a typical power outage lasted 3.02 hours in 2014, up from 2.67 hours in 2013. The average doesn’t count outages caused by major storms.
The $5 million fine will be paid from Con Ed profits that otherwise would have gone to shareholders.
The Commission’s decision only affects electricity prices. An order in 2014 set gas and steam rates through the end of 2016. That means next January, Con Ed could file a big case seeking increases in electricity, gas and steam rates that would take effect in January 2017.