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NYSEG seeks a 10 percent hike in electricity rates

New York State Electric & Gas Co. is asking state regulators for a rate increase that, if approved, would add about $8 to the average residential customer’s monthly electric bill.

The proposed rate increase would end four years of stable delivery charges for NYSEG’s electric customers and would increase the company’s annual revenues from its electric business by $126 million. The average monthly electric bill for a consumer using 600 kilowatt hours of electricity, would rise by about 10 percent to $88.60 from $80.56.

The company also is seeking a rate increase for its natural gas customers, which include roughly 24,000 consumers in the Lockport area and parts of the Southern Tier. Those rates would rise by about $10 a month, or 11 percent, for a typical residential customer, the company said Wednesday.

NYSEG, which provides electric service for most of the western half of Erie County, along with portions of Wyoming and Chautauqua counties, said it needs the rate increase to help pay for an expanded program to manage vegetation along the 35,000 miles of electric lines it maintains across its upstate New York service territory. The program, which would trim vegetation every five years, is in line with electric industry standards for trimming vegetation.

The company also is seeking to recover more than $260 million in storm restoration costs that it incurred during storms such as Hurricane Sandy in 2012. “After nearly four years without a rate change, this plan provides funding to enhance safety and reliability and recover past storm expenses, while keeping our customers’ costs among the lowest in the state,” said Mak Lynch, NYSEG’s president and CEO.

The proposed rate hike will be reviewed by the state Public Service Commission over the next 11 months and could be altered substantially. Any change in rates would have to be approved by the PSC and the earliest it could take effect would be May 2016.

The proposed rate increases would apply only to the cost of delivering electricity and natural gas to consumers – the only portion of utility bills regulated by the PSC. The actual cost of the electricity or natural gas used by consumers is based on market prices.