Public Service Commission to investigate electricity bill increases

MENANDS, N.Y. — The Public Service Commission has been added to the list of agencies now investigating what many call an electricity price increase problem, saying it's too early to tell if any wrongdoing exists, but it will work to find out.

Customers using a variety of utility companies in the Capital Region feel they aren't getting the answers they deserve when it comes to energy bill increases. Some customers' bills have doubled and tripled.

The PSC regulates utility companies and pricing. Jim Denn is the Public Affairs Director.

“The second part of the bill is the commodity,” he said. “That's the cost of the actual supply of the energy, and that's the part of the bill that has increased dramatically as a result of the cold winter that we have all experienced.”

But many are not satisfied with that answer. Tess Collins owns McGeary's in Albany. She said her bill has risen significantly and many businesses have been impacted by the price hike.

“I know that some of the small businesses already are contemplating going out of business,” she said. “I was just hoping that somebody would look into it, and I feel that a lot of these companies we need to keep a close eye on them and make sure that they're not taking advantage of our situation.”

Senator Charles Schumer said the pricing increase needs to be investigated.

“Something is wrong with the utility bills because the amount of money the utility bills have gone up seems to far exceed the amount of new electricity used or even the cost,” he said.

Denn said the PSC is conducting its own investigation.

“We're also conducting our own investigation, our own review to make sure that our customers have not been in appropriately charged for the prices,” he said. “We've also asked the New York Independent System Operator to take a look at how it manages the system.

In a letter, the PSC asked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to also conduct an investigation. FERC said it will hold a conference next month addressing the issue.

“We want to take a hard look to see how the utilities performed during this abnormally cold weather period and to see if any changes could be made to mitigate this kind of price impact in the future,” Denn said. 

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