CLP Urges PSC to Reduce Utility Fixed Charges

On November 21, CLP submitted a letter to the PSC, signed by 131 elected officials, urging the Commission to reduce residential fixed charges, and held a press conference announcing this letter. Signatories to the letter that made statements at the press conference included:

City of Kingston Mayor Steve Noble
Town of Clinton Supervisor Raymon Oberly
New Paltz Village Mayor Tim Rogers
New Paltz Town Supervisor Neil Bettez
Rosendale Town Supervisor Jeanne Walsh
Jen Metzger, Director of Citizens for Local Power and also a Rosendale Town Councilmember

At $24 per month, Central Hudson’s fixed charges are the highest in the state and one of the highest in the country. The utility is now proposing to raise this rate further, to $25. The letter from elected officials urges the Commission to reduce the fixed charge to $10, and CLP made this recommendation in testimony filed in the PSC proceeding reviewing Central Hudson’s new proposed rate plan.

High fixed rates unfairly burden lower-usage customers with a higher proportion of the utility’s costs. The current rate design is particularly punishing for elderly and low-income residents, as well as for the many people living just above the poverty line. High fixed rates also make it difficult for customers to reduce their utility bill by managing their energy use, and reduces the financial incentive to invest in renewable energy and energy efficiency improvements.

“A basic rate-making principal of the Public Service Commission is that rates are reasonable and fair, and these rates are not reasonable and they’re not fair. They’re the most unreasonable and the most unfair [here] in Central Hudson territory.” – CLP Director Jen Metzger.
“Increasing the fixed charge is really going the wrong way by discouraging efficiency. What we want is incentives for people to use less energy. The best way to do this is to have people pay for what they use. In the end, it’s a fairness issue. We should not have people who use less and have less money subsidizing people who use more and have more money. – Neil Bettez, New Paltz Town Supervisor
“We also see that more and more people are trying to go solar and trying to put renewable energy on their property. One of the biggest impediments is the fact that even with completely generating your own electricity on your roof, you’re still paying that fixed charge. And that really can eat into any savings that you would’ve had when you’re doing solar. It becomes sometimes an unsurmountable obstacle for folks that are trying to do this, especially low- to moderate-income individuals who want to be able to invest in renewable energy but just can’t make the finances work.” – Steve Noble, Mayor of Kingston
"We really want to see these savings for our residents and for our small businesses. We urge so many of the people to do things that save them energy. Buy appliances that saves you energy; put LED lights throughout your home--things that I've done myself and I know many people in our community are doing--thinking it's going to make a big impact and how they're going to, not only save energy for the world, but also save on their energy bill. And that's not being reflected with this fixed cost. So it's really important for the Public Service Commission to recognize that if people are making that effort to save energy, they need to see that reflected on their Central Hudson bill." - Jeanne Walsh, Rosendale Town Supervisor
"There are ways to have users of more electricity pay a greater amount than the current structure. For instance, in the Village of New Paltz we charge water and sewer users higher rates the more they consume. The idea behind that is that you're trying to encourage conservation. This type of structure flies in the face of that. When fixed costs are higher, you really lose the incentive to be more conservative." - Tim Rogers, New Paltz Village Mayor
"A significant reduction in these fixed utility rates from Central Hudson will vastly benefit residential and commercial users.
... The continually increasing of electricity costs from the FERC 6%... to recent electric rate increases due to keeping the three nuclear power plants in western New York operating... and the recent 10% increases received by Central Hudson are making it very difficult for low usage homeowners and small businesses to remain living in New York State. " - Raymon Oberly, Town of Clinton Supervisor

Letter to the Public Service Commission