Newly approved utility rate hikes — fair, or asking too much?

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Think your gas and electric bills are already too high? Get ready to pay more.

On Thursday, the Public Service Commission approved rate hikes for RG&E and NYSEG.

The utilities wanted customers to pay $447 million more next year, but the PSC decided that was too much and lowered it by half. But for many customers, that’s still asking too much.

Crystal Martin and her husband Chester say they’ve had enough.

“Financially it would be difficult, especially since we are on a fixed income — so that would be hard for us to have to try and juggle paying the bill and making sure we take care of our other necessities,” Crystal Martin said.

Chester Martin added: “They had many satellite offices with customer service representatives for years. They got rid of them, they closed them. Now they got a box over there for you to drop your bill in.”

But according to RG&E and NYSEG CEO Patricia Nilsen, the price increases are fair given the necessary investments needed to improve the grid, invest in green energy and maintain customer service.

“In some areas of our business, we need to make sure we have the staffing necessary to serve our customers, and that’s what those positions are focused on,” Nilsen said.

For NYSEG customers, you’ll be seeing an increase of nearly $10 more on your monthly electric bill and a little over $5 more for gas, starting in November.

For RG&E customers, your electric bill will go up an average of a little over $6 in November, and a little over $5 for gas.

These are increases that will go up next year and in 2025.

AARP-NY legislative representative Bill Ferris said such rates can be tough on low-income families and the elderly.

“A lot of older persons are on fixed incomes, they have limited incomes. So when you take inflation recently that we’ve had in the country, and then you take these rate increases on top of that, it really hits the pocketbook of people.”

But compared to the rest of the state, Nilsen said the rate increases are fair.

She said the increase will “still keep us among the lowest rates in New York State. So we are looking at anywhere from about a $5 to $8 bill increase”

The commission has been investigating RG&E’s and NYSEC’s billing and customer complaint issues, which is why the companies have been hit with an $18.5 million negative rate adjustment — meaning they will need to deduct that from their revenue.