State surcharge being added to utility bills

March 20, 2017 05:48 PM

ROCHESTER—Your energy bill is about to go up but don’t blame the utility this time, blame the State of New York.

Starting on the April bill, all electric customers in New York will see a state surcharge added to their bills. Governor Andrew Cuomo and state regulators made an arrangement with the failing upstate nuclear power plants to help subsidize operational and repair costs to keep them open until a more robust “green” market can be established to handle electric demand.

Basically, the new state surcharge will be used to subsidize the power plants and to incentivize other companies to build and maintain alternative electric options.

The surcharge starts as of April 1st. "All [customers] see on their bill is 'Hey, I buy my power from Fairport Electric and it's 6 percent higher today -- at least that's for our customers -- than it was yesterday,” says Bryan White the Village of Fairport Manager.

Both power companies and municipal systems want to be clear they are simply the middle men. The amount of the surcharge is based on usage. The average residential RG&E customer can expect to see an increase of about $2 per month. The bigger impact will be felt by business and industrial customers who will end up paying thousands more per month.

"We're paying too much as I see it already but now we’ve got to pay more and this is what the state says? That's just wrong,” says Leonard, a Rochester resident and RG&E customer.

The money will subsidize the nuclear power plants while the state tries to build a bigger green infrastructure that can handle the loads taken on by the plants. Governor Cuomo wants all utilities to buy at least 50 percent of the supply from renewable sources by 2030.

"Things that move us in that direction are good but charges should come against the people who are creating either the problem or the profit for themselves," says Jim Kraus of Rochester.

"Did I see a situation where it would be technically forced by the governor's office in an effort to create a market that really isn't there right now anyway, no. And I don't really know if I believe it should have been done that way,” says White.

Fairport Electric already gets 80-90 percent of its supply from a renewable source, Niagara Falls, but there are no exemptions on the surcharge. "What happens should this never take off and we have all this money that's basically been taxed per kilowatt hour, charges to all these people... Where is that money going to go because I have considerable doubts that this is going to be the 2030 deadline if you look at the comprehensiveness of what needs to happen,” White adds.

Fairport Electric plans to break this surcharge out into its own line-item on customer bills. RG&E tells News10NBC it has been directed by the New York State Public Service Commission to include it in an already present line item.

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Jennifer Lewke

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