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New York State Electric & Gas Co.'s rate restructuring plan does not reduce rates for residential customers enough, according to Kevin Bonner, chief of utility intervention for the state Consumer Protection Board.

The rate restructuring is part of a broader plan that would permit NYSE&G's Lockport customers to choose their electric company beginning next August.

The board plans to give the state Public Service Commission a statement today, opposing NYSE&G's latest plan to meet the commission's vision of free-market competition among electricity producers.

At the first of four public forums on NYSE&G's plan held Thursday evening in the County Courthouse, public service business advocate John Calcagni praised the plan's potential for reducing rates for residents and businesses. But Bonner criticized its potential to raise basic user fees for customers who don't use much electricity.

"We agree with some of it, like the competition aspect, but we think the reductions could be greater for the consumer," he said after the hearing.

About 19,000 electric customers in the Lockport area would be among the first to be able to choose their electric producer under the plan.

As the NYSE&G plan goes forward, Lockport residents can expect that new electricity suppliers, just like long-distance telephone companies, will call and ask them to change their electricity supplier, Calcagni told about 20 people attending Thursday's hearing.

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