Town of Ramapo Supervisor Christopher P. St. Lawrence today called on the New York State Public Service Commission (PSC) to suspend a rate hike request from Orange and Rockland Utilities, Inc. (O&R) pending an investigation into O&R’s failure to provide adequate information to the thousands of families who remain without power several days after the storm that hit the region this past Saturday. Supervisor St. Lawrence has intervenor status in the current rate hike case, which enables him to take an active role in the proceedings.
In a letter sent today to PSC Secretary Jaclyn A. Brilling, Supervisor St. Lawrence wrote that he is appalled at the lack of restoration of power to Ramapo residents, and said that he finds the inability of the public to ascertain from O&R when their power will be turned back on to be deeply disturbing.
“As people struggle to pick up the pieces in the wake of this terrible storm, it is unacceptable that Orange and Rockland is not keeping the public adequately notified as to the status of their power restoration,” wrote Supervisor St. Lawrence in his letter to the PSC. “As a result of Orange and Rockland’s lackluster effort to keep the public properly informed during a difficult and trying time for many families throughout the Town of Ramapo and Rockland County, thousands of people are being kept in the dark, both literally and figuratively.”
“Until such time as a thorough investigation is done to determine why Orange and Rockland was unable to provide its customers with timely and substantive information in the days following the storm, the Public Service Commission should suspend O&R’s multi-million dollar rate hike request,” continued Supervisor St. Lawrence. “The PSC must not allow Orange and Rockland to keep going back to the ratepayers looking for a handout until such time as they get their house in order and figure out how to streamline communication with their customers and disseminate critical information to families when they need it most.”
In July 2011, Orange and Rockland filed a request with the PSC seeking approval of an electric base rate increase of $17.7 million. On October 28, 2011, O&R increased its rate request by $7.8 million due to storm damage from Hurricane Irene, among many other factors. That means that Orange and Rockland is now seeking to increase delivery rates by a total of $25.6 million, or 44% higher than the original filing.
O&R’s latest request for a rate increase came shortly after the PSC approved another rate hike request from O&R and granted them an increase in electric rates that would raise the average ratepayer’s monthly bill by 2.7%.
Supervisor St. Lawrence has been an outspoken advocate for the ratepayers in previous rate cases before the PSC and has actively opposed the utilities’ requests for rate increases on a number of occasions.
(YWN Desk – NYC)