Opposition to rate hikes proposed by New York State Electric & Gas, NYSEG, is growing. A group led by Assemblyperson Anna Kelles gathered in Ithaca last week to speak out against them.
Kelles stood with local lawmakers and residents Thursday on the steps of the Tompkins County Legislature. She says the power company’s claims that rates will only go up about 20% for electric and gas customers are misleading.
"The actual rate increase of the delivery of the electricity and gas is 62% and 18%. And if you look at page 96 of the 680-some page document you’ll see those numbers specifically," she said.
Kelles said that may force some people out of their homes. Others will face difficult choices.
"People are going to have to start deciding between whether or not they feed their children or whether they pay their electricity. That is unacceptable," she said.
Ruth Atkin from Ellis Hollow says she’s already facing problems with NYSEG. She says their bills go from $100 one month to $700 the next but their energy usage doesn’t change. And their calls to NYSEG go unanswered.
"It’s affecting our ability to budget for our household and, and our cash flow," Atkin said. She's using auto-pay for her bills but said she's going to have to stop because they never know how much NYSEG will take from their account.
It’s not just residential customers like Atkin who are having problems. Shawna Black is Chair of the Tompkins County Legislature.
"Tompkins County has been experiencing serious issues with being able to access our NYSEG accounts over the past month to pay our invoices. Even to the point of receiving a shut-off notice for one of our buildings. Go figure, Public Health," she said.
Black said if the proposed hikes are approved the county power bill will go up $400,000. An expense that taxpayers will have to pay.
The State Public Services Commission is accepting public comments about the rate hikes on its website. Public hearings will be held later this year.
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