New York – State Senator Michael Gianaris, a longtime advocate for consumer rights, is fighting to lower utility bills by working to reverse an electricity pricing decision that would cost ratepayers across the state between $400 million and $500 million next year. He sent a letter to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) urging the agency to reverse its decision to avoid such egregious additional costs being passed on to ratepayers.
FERC recently changed electricity market pricing rules that previously allowed new, clean power generating plants to operate at low costs, keeping electricity rates down. The recent rule change, however, will cause electricity prices to shoot up by as much as $9 dollars per month beginning January 2013.
“New Yorkers already pay among the highest electricity rates in the nation. As we continue to struggle during a tough economy, such an ill-conceived increase to New Yorker’s home energy bills will add to financial burdens, particularly in the coming winter months,” Gianaris said. “Big power companies already take too much of people’s hard-earned money. Government should be helping people pay less, not more.”
In 2010, FERC implemented an exemption to the New York Independent System Operator (NYISO) marketplace to allow a local clean energy power plant, Astoria Energy II (AE II), to produce energy at lower rates. This increased competition among power producers and kept electricity rates lower for residents and businesses. In September of this year, however, FERC changed the exemption standards, restricting AE II’s participation in the New York City electric capacity market, which will raise market rates overall to meet demand and increase ratepayer bills.
For more than a decade, Gianaris has been an advocate for ratepayers to ensure their wallets are not hit too hard each month. Last year, he fought a FERC decision to increase rates under the false belief that New York City power companies pay excessive property taxes. Not only was he successful in getting the decision reversed but he also introduced the Ratepayer Protection Act to eliminate property tax exemptions and abatements for power-generating corporations that unfairly raise their rates.