Keep utility decisions out of lawmakers’ hands

Posted: October 6, 2017
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Publication: Albany Times Union 

By: Jerry Kremer

I can say without fear of contradiction that nobody likes paying more for their electricity. So I appreciate that state Sen. James Tedisco, R-Glenville, and state Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara, D-Rotterdam, want to address the high, and rising, utility bills that add to their constituents’ cost of living (“Legislators want to control utility hike vote,” Sept. 7).

The aforementioned legislators are responding to National Grid’s negotiation of a rate increase with the state Public Service Commission by introducing a bill to put these decisions in the hands of the state Legislature. National Grid is seeking the increase to cover the cost of investing in new infrastructure to improve and secure the grid and new technology to make energy use more efficient and less costly; they’re also augmenting measures to assist customers in need.

The problem with handing rate cases to legislators rather than the PSC is twofold: first, it would make these complex determinations political when in fact they require the input and judgment of highly trained experts; second, we must take utilities seriously when they contend, as National Grid does, that without increased funding they won’t be able provide the power we depend on — risking shortages and all the harms that come with them.

That said, the state certainly does face an urgency to reduce utility bills that are among the highest in the country and the far better approach is to cut the excess taxes, fees and surcharges that make up 25 percent of the average New York ratepayer’s bill. Fully repealing these outdated and unreasonable burdens would go a long way toward mitigating the cost of making necessary and reasonable investments in our energy future.

Arthur “Jerry” Kremer

Chairman, New York AREA

Read it here: Keep utility decisions out of lawmakers’ hands