Westchester County Attorney Robert Meehan is asking the Board of Legislators to increase the amount of money budgeted for legal and other services before the state Public Service Commission from $198,500 to $527,313 — a jump of 166 percent. The law firm of Duncan, Weinberg, Genzer & Pembroke is representing the county in the state panel’s administrative proceedings on Consolidated Edison’s bid to increase electric and gas rates, and decrease steam rates for its customers, who are all in Manhattan.
Con Ed, which provides electric, gas and steam service to more than 3 million customers in New York City and Westchester, is proposing new rates for 2014.They would bring the utility an additional $375 million to run the electric system, another $25 million for gas and a decrease of $5 million in revenue for the steam system, according to an online fact sheet from Con Ed.
The overall increase on customers’ bills would be 3.3 percent for electric and 1.3 percent for gas. The typical monthly electricity bill for a Westchester resident would increase from $114.41 to $118. A small business’ typical bill would increase from $2,166.59 to $2,225.61. For gas, typical bills would rise from $187.68 to $190.35 for residents and from $349.24 to $351.88 for businesses. The utility said expiration of certain contracts with non-utility generator units will save customers an estimated $46 million in 2014.
Con Ed’s proposed rate plan calls for investments to protect critical equipment from major storms, such as putting submersible equipment in flood-prone areas and placing some overhead lines underground. The utility’s filings call for $1 billion in investments through 2016, which could be partly funded by federal money and/or money from other sources, according to Con Ed.
Meehan’s letter states that if the rate increases go forward, additional costs to the county could be up to about $2 million a year. Aggregate costs to other municipal entities in Westchester could be in the tens of millions of dollars per year. Meehan’s source is Timothy Carey, executive director of the Westchester County Public Utility Service Agency. According to Carey, residential and business customers in Westchester could see up to 4.2 percent increases in their electricity bills.
Meehan said Carey told his office that the county required more services from the law firm, and its subcontractor, Snavely King Majoros & Associates Inc., than originally anticipated.
“Mr. Carey has advised my office that these additional services were needed because the NYS PSC, which initiated and required the settlement discussions, continued the discussions for much longer than expected,” Meehan wrote.
Following the settlement discussions, the differences in the positions of the parties still amount to about $574.7 million for 2014, the letter said. The county expects the rate cases will proceed to evidentiary hearings.
(File photo of Con Ed employee working on Whipporwill Road in Chappaqua.)