Orange & Rockland seeks $34-a-month rate hike
By: Laura Incalcaterra, LoHud
November 14, 2014
Rockland customers would see their electric and natural gas bills increase by an average of more than $34 per month next year under a rate hike requested Friday by Orange and Rockland Utilities Inc.
The company filed its request to charge more to deliver electricity and natural gas with the state Public Service Commission, which oversees most utilities in New York and would have to approve the hike.
Under the plan, which would take effect Nov. 1, 2015, ratepayers would see their monthly electric bill increase by about 6 percent, or $8.13 per month, to $143.99, according to O&R. The figure is for a residential customer using an average of 677 kilowatts of electricity per month.
Ratepayers would see their monthly gas bills increase by about 19.1 percent, or $26.18 per month, to $163.38, the company said. The figure is for a residential customers using 100 cubic feet of natural gas per month.
Rockland County Executive Ed Day expressed concern about the request.
“While I acknowledge that there is a need for infrastructure and transmission improvements in the O&R system, I am concerned about the burden these proposed rate hikes will place on already strapped Rockland residents and business owners,” Day said in a statement.
The electricity rate hike would bring the company an increase of $33.4 million in revenue, and O&R wants to use some of the money to pay for infrastructure improvements, property taxes and Superstorm Sandy recovery, spokesman Mike Donovan said.
O&R plans to install an $8.8 million substation in Warwick, in Orange County; install an $11.8 million transformer at the Sterling Forest substation; and continue its $6.4 million Smart Grid program to improve service for more than 25,000 customers in central Rockland — from Chestnut Ridge to West Nyack.
The company also wants to launch a demonstration project to reduce electricity demand in the Pomona area by 5.5 megawatts. It plans to arm customers with alternative energy management tools to help them proactively manage their energy use. The move would help postpone installation of a new $56 million substation and underground transmission line, the company said.
The natural gas delivery rate hike request would bring O&R an increase of $40.7 million in revenue and one of the main plans for the money is to accelerate the replacement of remaining cast iron pipes with plastic ones at a rate of 18 miles annually, with a target completion date of 2022.
The company also plans to extend natural gas service into areas that currently don’t have it.
O&R also wants to build a $2.2 million compressed natural gas fueling depot at its Spring Valley operations center and to replace 60 fleet vehicles that use gasoline with those that use CNG.
Donovan said it takes about a year for a request to make its way through the review process.
O&R is open to implementing a three-year plan to reduce the monthly bill impact on customers, he said.
The PSC will eventually seek public input as it reviews O&R’s request.
O&R serves 224,000 customers in all of Rockland, about half of Orange County and parts of Sullivan County.