The New York State Public Service Commission on June 14 said that it has adopted a joint proposal supported by Central Hudson Gas & Electric, New York State Department of Public Service (DPS) staff, and parties representing customer, municipal, and environmental interests regarding new electric and natural gas rates for Central Hudson customers.
The decision establishes a three-year electric and gas rate plan that limits the overall revenue increases in the first year to $13.7m, or 1%, for electric customers, and $3.2m, or 1.5%, for natural gas customers, the commission said. The company’s initial request was for a $63.4m revenue increase in electric rates, or 21.2%, of delivery revenue, and a $22.2m increase, or 24.3%, of delivery revenue in natural gas rates, the commission noted.
Under the new rate plan, a typical residential customer using 625 kWh of electricity per month would see a total monthly bill increase of $1.46, or 1.3%, in the first year starting in July; $3.31, or 3%, in the second year starting in July 2019; and $5.04, or 4.4%, in the third year starting in July 2020, the commission noted. A typical residential heating customer using 910 therms of gas annually would see an average monthly bill increase of $2.54, or 2.1%, in the first year; $5.59, or 4.4%, in the second year; and $7.22, or 5.5%, in the third year, the commission said. Eligible low-income electric customers will see a bill reduction of up to 65%, the commission noted.
As TransmissionHub reported, the joint proposal is a part of the regulatory review process for the new rate plan proposed by Central Hudson last July, the company said in April.
Parties that signed the joint proposal include the Public Utility Law Project of New York, Dutchess County, Pace Energy and Climate Center, the New York Geothermal Energy Organization, Acadia Center, Natural Resources Defense Council, the Utility Intervention Unit of the Department of State, Division of Consumer Protection, and the U.S. Dept. of the Defense representing West Point, Central Hudson said.
Central Hudson President and CEO Michael Mosher, in a separate June 14 statement, said, in part, "We’re pleased the new rate plan was approved, as it will allow us to better serve our customers now and in the years ahead."
In its June 14 order, the commission said, “We find that the three-year term of the rate plan is in the public interest because it provides customers and the company with long-term delivery rate certainty and greater stability and ability to plan than would be possible in a one-year litigated case.”
The commission said that while nearly all of the public comments received in the proceedings voiced opposition to any rate increases, it finds that the increases recommended in the joint proposal are necessary as they provide sufficient revenues to allow Central Hudson to maintain and improve the provision of safe and reliable electric and gas service, at just and reasonable rates. The increases are needed to, for instance, allow the company to maintain and upgrade its electric and gas infrastructure and information systems, fund additional energy efficiency expenses, and expand the company’s low-income customer discount programs, the commission said.
As noted in the June 14 statement, benefits provided by the adopted joint proposal include that low-income customers will see an increase in benefits totaling more than $31m over the three-year period. Those funding levels will result in bill discounts for electric heating and non-heat customers of between $19 and $39 per month, gas heating customers of between $30 and $50 per month, and gas non-heating customers of $3 per month, the commission said.
Also, more than $60m will be provided for vegetation management, the commission said, adding that the funding level will allow Central Hudson to improve reliability by reducing tree-related outages on distribution and transmission lines.
In addition, Central Hudson will provide a $264 annual credit to customers who install qualified geothermal systems, the commission said.
Among other things, the commission said that Central Hudson was also authorized to begin development of an integrated facility dedicated to providing hands-on and scenario-based learning, as well as indoor/outdoor electric and gas training.
Central Hudson is a Fortis (NYSE:FTS) company.