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You’re likely to see higher electric bills soon

A new proposal would reduce the size of a rate hike that New York State Electric & Gas Co. had been seeking in its electric delivery charges.

While NYSEG initially asked state regulators for a roughly 10 percent increase that would add about $8 to the cost of a typical residential customer’s monthly bill, the new proposal would cut that increase to 6.4 percent over the next three years.

That proposed rate increase, averaging slightly more than 2 percent annually over three years, would add $5.19 to the average bill of a residential customer using 600 kilowatt hours of electricity, boosting it to $85.75 from $80.56 today, said Clay Ellis, a NYSEG spokesman.

The new proposal, if approved by the state Public Service Commission, 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 $83 million.

The new proposal is the result of negotiations between NYSEG, the PSC staff and more than a half dozen other state agencies and business customers. This type of joint proposal often forms the basis for a utility’s new rate plan, although the PSC commissioners still must approve the proposal and can make changes to it.

The proposal would allow NYSEG to recover $262 million in storm restoration costs that it incurred during storms such as Superstorm Sandy in 2012.

NYSEG, which provides electric service for most of the western half of Erie County, along with portions of Wyoming and Chautauqua counties, also would spend more money on 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, would increase spending from $20 million annually today to $25 million during the first year and $30 million during the second and third years of the agreement.

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 a little more than $10 a month, or 11 percent, for a typical residential customer over the life of the three-year agreement, Ellis said Monday. Natural gas delivery charges would rise by 2.1 percent during the first year, followed by 4.1 percent increases during each of the second and third years.

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. A consumer’s monthly bill also includes the actual price of the electricity or natural gas used by consumers, which is based on market prices and is sold to the utility’s customers at cost.

The earliest the proposed rate hike could take effect, assuming it is approved by the PSC, would be at the beginning of May. The rates would run through April 2019.