New push for a public takeover of RG&E


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ROCHESTER, N.Y. – The push to consider a public takeover of RG&E is back on. A number of community groups and labor unions want Monroe County to help fund a study to see whether it would be possible but the County Executive and the union that represents RG&E’s current workers, are strongly opposed. 

This isn’t the first time there’s been a public push for a community takeover of RG&E. Last year, the Rochester City Council agreed to set aside money to help fund a feasibility study but it was contingent on the county coming up with some cash to pitch in too, which it did not. 

A group of people from Metro Justice, United Auto Workers 1097 and the Federation of Social Workers gathered on the steps of the Monroe County Office building on Wednesday to try and get the attention of County Executive Adam Bello and his administration in hopes of pushing them to reconsider. 

“The public will is much stronger in favor of a public utility study, we have a democratic majority in the county legislature and we continue to grow our coalition,” says Mohini Sharma, the Organizing Director for Metro Justice. 

The coalition now includes a handful of local labor unions.

“I don’t know why they’re afraid of a study, if the study shows it’s bad, we’re out, then we would be in opposition,” says Dan Maloney of the United Auto Workers Local 1097. 

The Union that represents the employees at RG&E is not part of the coalition.

“Our organization, the 377 people who actually operate, build and maintain the system here at RG&E are firmly opposed to this,” says Jeff Sandervan, Business Manager of Local 36 IBEW. “A giant administration would have to be created, which doesn’t exist now. Massive costs, we already have the experts in the business and we don’t need the county and the city getting into something, we have plenty of vexing problems around here to deal with, the last thing that the county and the city needs to deal with is creating this colossal to run a utility company.”

Monroe County Executive Adam Bello seems to hold a similar opinion. While he supports holding RG&E accountable for fixing the billing and customer service issues News10NBC has been reporting on for years, he said in a statement on Wednesday, “My position that creating a public utility is a costly, complex issue beyond the scope of Monroe County is unchanged.”

Bello also pointed out that RG&E is the largest taxpayer in Monroe County, paying around $100 million in taxes annually. It also has more than $4 billion in assets that would need to be acquired and hundreds of millions of dollars in environmental liabilities— for those reasons, he says he continues to believe a study of creating a public utility is not a reasonable or a prudent use of taxpayer dollars.