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More than 80 people gathered last Friday on a Yorktown cul-de-sac waving their latest electric bills in protest over prohibitive rate hikes imposed by Con Edison over the past month.
The demonstration at Jefferson Village, a 1,000-unit age-restricted condominium community, was organized by Yorktown Supervisor Matt Slater, fellow Town Board members and Assembly members Kevin Byrne (R-Mahopac) and Colin Schmitt (R-New Windsor).
“The fact is New York State has led us into an energy crisis that is creating a financial emergency for families with back-breaking electric bills for seniors on fixed incomes and small businesses,” Slater told the crowd, which included many Jefferson Village residents. “The state is out of touch and insane.”
Slater held up the one-month electric bill for $6,538 received by Mario Mancini, the owner of A&S Pork Store & Fine Foods on nearby Hill Boulevard, about a $2,000 increase from the previous month.
“A bill like this is a big strain on small business owners like Mario here,” Slater said. “We have to go after them. We can’t let this happen.”
Westchester residents have seen their electricity bills triple going from about six cents per kilowatt hour to 17 cents, said Con Edison spokesman Jamie McShane.
“The increased costs in January had to do with the weather, (natural gas) supply and consumption,” McShane said. “People used a lot more energy at a time when the price for natural gas went up, which is far beyond the scope of our control.”
About two-thirds of New York’s electricity is generated by five of the state’s 10 largest power plants, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).
Natural gas prices are directly linked to electricity charges in New York.
Con Edison’s electricity prices are among the highest of any major utility company in the continental U.S., the EIA stated. The utility charges for supplying and delivering the electricity and taxes.
McShane added that consumer rate hikes are due in part to Con Ed’s $2.5 billion New York City property tax.
“They’re passing on the cost of energy to our consumers,” Byrne said at the protest. “That’s always been the answer from the utility companies.”
Byrne said when Indian Point was shut down last year, promises were made to replace the power with natural gas, a promise that is now costing consumers money.
“The price of natural gas is a very big reason why the cost of energy has gotten so high,” he said. “Washington needs to do better.”
Agreeing with Byrne was Yorktown Councilman Tom Diana who blamed Indian Point’s closure for the rate hikes.
“This was the doing of the extreme left environmentalists who pushed to get the plant closed,” Diana said.
According to the 2017 expiration contract between the New York Power Authority, Con Edison and Indian Point owner Entergy, the twin nuclear power plants were only contributing 5 percent of the region’s electricity.
The Yorktown Town Board has sent letters to the Public Service Commission (PSC) requesting the New York State Special Counsel for Ratepayer Protection to investigate the massive rate hikes and oppose Con Edison’s request for an 11.2 percent electric rate increase as well as an 18.2 percent hike for gas, both proposed for 2023.
An additional request was made for the PSC to hold a public hearing at Yorktown Town Hall so ratepayers in northern Westchester can confront representatives from the utility.
Last week, Gov. Kathy Hochul and the PSC urged Con Edison to review its billing practices and be more transparent with New Yorkers.
“The extreme utility bill increases we are seeing across the state come at a time when New Yorkers are already struggling financially following the COVID-19 pandemic,” Hochul said.
At the protest last Friday was 17-year Jefferson Valley resident Louise Bartoli who has seen her electric bill triple.
“It’s outrageous,” she said.
Abby is a local journalist who has reported on breaking news for more than 20 years. She currently covers community issues in The Examiner as a full-time reporter and has written for the paper since its inception in 2007. Read more from Abby’s editor-author bio here. Read Abbys’s archived work here: https://www.theexaminernews.com/author/ab-lub2019/