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Public hearings on National Grid rate change proposal

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CNY/NNY/S. Tier: Public hearings on National Grid rate change proposal
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Come April, National Grid customers could see a change in their utility bill. The gas and electric company has proposed a delivery rate increase. But before anything goes into effect, the Public Service Commission wants to hear from customers. Our Iris St. Meran attended one of the public hearings to find out what residents have to say.

SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- It's a proposal for now, but National Grid is considering a rate increase for electric and natural gas delivery. Before the Public Service Commission votes on it in March, they're holding public hearings.

The hike would take place over three years. But most customers won't see a big jump immediately because a $190 million surcharge is expiring. That, along with a return of customer credits, will actually result in a decrease in bills at first.

Overall, electric rates would decrease by 6.2 percent in the first year and increase by 1.9% percent in years two and three. Gas rates would be reduced by 4.3 percent in year one and increase by 2.9 percent in the second and third years. Combined, it's more than $131 million.

Many at the hearing have a problem with the proposal.

Arletta Young said, "It would probably mean that I would have a problem trying to keep my Niagara Mohawk up or my medicine or keep up my food."

"We have to consider the needs of the average citizen. Because over a period of time, over the three years or so, it will affect the average person," Richard Zalewski said.

Some business leaders believe this proposal will aid in economic development.

Operation Oswego County Executive Director Michael Treadwell said, "It helps to at least set a strategy or a trend in terms of what those costs are going to be. The unknown is a big factor in terms of economic development."

National Grid says the increase will go to fix aging infrastructure which include thousands of miles of wire and pipe.

National Grid Spokesperson Patrick Stella said, "Over the past five years previous, we've invested $1.6 billion in our infrastructure and we've seen some really good returns on that as far as reduced outage time, duration of outages, things like that, and part of this rate case continues that investment."

What customers may see on their bills in a few months will soon be determined.

To give your input:
Email: Acting Secretary secretary@dps.ny.gov

Mail: Hon. Jeffrey C. Cohen
Acting Secretary
Public Service Commission
Three Empire State Plaza
Albany, NY 12223-1350

Toll-Free Opinion Line: 1 (800) 335-2120

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