RG&E and NYSEG reach tentative deal to raise delivery rates

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. — RG&E and NYSEG announced on Wednesday that a settlement has been reached in the rate case filed late last year. The utilities were previously looking for approval from state regulators to increase rates by as much as 34% for the delivery of gas and electric services for residential customers.   

RG&E and NYSEG filed the settlement proposal with the New York State Public Service Commission, which has regulatory power over them.

Here’s how much the rates could increase from what customers are currently paying:

BusinessRate Year 1Rate Year 2Rate Year 3
NYSEG Electric6.6%7.3%8.2%
NYSEG Natural Gas2.0%2.0%2.1%
RG&E Electric5.0%5.3%5.7%
RG&E Natural Gas3.4%3.6%3.9%

Here’s the total monthly bill impacts for average residential electric and natural gas customers:

BusinessRate Year 1Rate Year 2Rate Year 3
NYSEG Electric$9.61$8.87$11.34
NYSEG Natural Gas$3.92$2.34$3.61
RG&E Electric$7.32$5.98$6.90
RG&E Natural Gas$4.50$4.32$4.30

RG&E and NYSEG say the proposed rate increases will help with a $2.1 billion investment in infrastructure, a $1 billion investment in customer service, and a $900 million investment to lower carbon emissions.

On a conference call with reporters Wednesday, President and CEO Trish Nilsen spoke with News10NBC Investigative Reporter Jennifer Lewke who has been exposing major billing and customer service issues for more than a year.

Jennifer Lewke – “Trish, this is a really tough pill for a lot of people to swallow. Many folks having gone through customer service issues, or billing problems in the last year or so with your company. How do you assure them that this money is necessary and not just something more that they’re going to have to pay?

Trish Nilsen – “Our prior rate increase was exceedingly minor. It was 2%. We did that during COVID because we knew that our customers needed to have some relief and we really took on the burden of the company for our customers but we recognize that just like other industries when you think of prices today all these things have been raised over the years we have actually been holding our rates fairly flat until now.” 

Jennifer Lewke – “Is there any money in here at all that addresses the issues that we’ve been reporting on for the last couple of years now, or do you think you’re beyond those and this is all about the future?”

Trish Nilsen – “Our team is always working to make customer service improvements.  Our average speed of answer, I checked it this morning, is 90% of calls are answered in 30 seconds or less across RG&E and the same for NYSEG.  So, we’ve turned around our call answer times, we’ve hired and trained the staff we need.  We are still in the training process so, for a customer that called in January, they’re not seeing those benefits, but for customers that are calling today, they should be seeing an improvement in service, this rate case helps us to build on that but a lot of that work was prior to this rate case.”

In a statement, a spokesman for the NYS Department of Public Service tells News10NNBC.

“Several parties in the NYSEG/RG&E rate case submitted a proposed settlement agreement that dramatically reduces the utilities’ original rate request. The just-filed proposed agreement will now be subject to public review and comment before the PSC makes its final decision sometime later this year. There will be opportunities for parties to issue statements in support or opposition of the proposed settlement. An evidentiary hearing is set for July 17.  Public comments are accepted up to a final Commission decision.”

AARP New York was quick to voice strong opposition to the deal which impacts about 1.2 million customers saying.

“We are deeply troubled by the massive rate increase request put forward by the Companies and DPS Staff. Joint Proposals are supposed to be within the public’s interest, but this unaffordable request is anything but.”  

They have asked the PSC to dismiss the rate hike request due to ongoing billing problems and customer service issues that News10NBC has been exposing for more than a year now.