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Mitch Gruber

Letter on Rate Hikes

July 23, 2020

Hon. Michelle L. Phillips

Secretary to the Commission

NYS Public Service Commission

Empire State Plaza

Agency Building 3

Re: Public Comment in NYSEG/RGE Cases 19-E-0378 et al.

Dear Secretary Phillips:

As elected representatives for the City of Rochester, we feel compelled to reach out to you to voice our opposition to the increases outlined in the newly proposed electric and gas delivery rate plans put forth by the Rochester Gas and Electric Corporation (RG&E) and New York State Electric & Gas (NYSEG). We also wish to share our opposition to the proposed closure of the Rochester RG&E customer walk-in office located at 256 Waring Road, Rochester, NY 14609, one of six offices proposed to close.

Over the next three years, the current joint proposal would increase electric delivery rates by double digits; RG&E customers would see an increase of over 15% and NYSEG customers over 25%. At the same time gas delivery rates are also proposed to increase, albeit at a more modest level. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, many of our residents struggled to pay their utility bills, however, in the midst of a global pandemic we cannot support an increase in service delivery rates that could have severe economic impacts to those in our community.

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused significant disruption to our economy; governments, businesses, public utilities, and families are all feeling the weight of our times. Our residents cannot afford to see increases, nor can they afford COVID relief measures taken today impact them financially years down the line. Internal costs must be assessed by public utilities, expenses must be scrutinized, and non-immediate capital expenses can be deferred. Our residents need relief now.

Additionally, the closure of customer service offices stands to have a monumental impact on Rochester residents with the fewest resources. These offices allow customers face-to-face interactions with customer service representatives that can provide customers much needed assistance. Individuals can work with customer service representative to prevent a disconnection, to stop the seizure of a meter, and prevent negative impacts to their credit by negotiating a deferred payment. These offices have public value and should remain open as a tool for residents.

Over the last several years, RG&E has increasingly stepped up as a community partner. They have worked with the City of Rochester to provide funding for upgrades to public lighting infrastructure, supporting more environmentally friendly alternatives. We are appreciative of this partnership, and we want to acknowledge the efforts they have made in our community. However, as the elective representatives of our community, we must stand with those in need.

That is why we must oppose the proposed increases in electric and gas delivery rate plans and the closure of the Rochester RG&E customer walk-in office. Thank you for the opportunity to share our testimony with you, and we are hopeful that you will act in support of the residents of this community.

Sincerely,

Councilmember At-Large Mitch D. Gruber

and all Rochester City Councilmembers

How to contact us:

When you have questions or ideas, please reach out to us.

e-mail:
Mitch.Gruber@cityofrochester.gov,
Elizabeth.Sieber@cityofrochester.gov

office phone:
585-428-6924
City Council main phone:
585-428-7538

address:
City Hall, Room 301, 30 Church Street, Rochester, NY 14614

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