City leaders flipping the switch, wanting to take over RG&E

[anvplayer video=”5144561″ station=”998131″]

ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Customer frustrations with RG&E have been boiling for months.

City leaders are flipping the switch and want to take over the power company. At a public meeting Thursday night, they talked about replacing the company with a publicly owned entity.

The meeting was led by Rochester City Council vice president Mary Lupien and a group called Metro Justice. With a 20% rate hike proposed by RG&E, the goal is to replace the company and have a publicly owned utility. The spotlight is on RG&E, and it’s not a good one.

“It is ridiculous and we do have to do something,” one speaker said. “I’m frustrated.”

“‘These are great questions,’” another speaker said. “‘We’ll get back to you with this.’ Nothing. I wrote a letter to Trish Nilsen, the new president and CEO, she’s had it on her desk since September. No response.”

Metro Justice and Lupien want to replace RG&E with a community-owned utility that they claim will be more affordable, accountable and climate-conscious. Lupien says the entire council is on board.

There were more than 50 people inside the Thomas P. Ryan Center Thursday night for the town hall. Each person had a “horror” story to share about crazy high bills from RG&E. 

“My last bill was almost $400,” another speaker who did not state their name said. “I work from home so I need the electric on, and I’m not cranking up the heat. I’m sure all of us have a similar story. I’m just hoping that this movement does get us to the point where we can be our own electric.”

How does this work? Well, the way it was explained was Rochester City Council has the power to start the process of transferring the power to public ownership by a vote. The movement is called Rochester For Energy Democracy.

So, where does this start? The group broke it down into three parts. Its asking the city and Monroe County to commit to a study to see what they need to make it work. Then they move to a public vote. After that, there would be a buyout negotiation with RG&E.

“We can do the implementation study, but we want that to be commissioned and funded by the city and Monroe County so that they have buy-in right away and that’s really important for the success of the utility long term,” Mohini Sharma said, with Metro Justice.

The group says they hope to have that study started by the end of this year, and it expects to have it on a ballot in 2024. Lupien added that they invited the Public Service Commission to be at the event but it declined.

If you weren’t at Thursday’s meeting, you can find more information on how you can get involved here.

More about billing issues with RG&E: