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AARP: Con Ed $420 Million Rate Hike Proposal Bad News for NYC Kitchen Table Economies



 AARP: Con Ed $420 Million Rate Hike Proposal Bad News for NYC Kitchen Table
                                  Economies

PR Newswire

NEW YORK, Oct. 9, 2013

Con Ed Customers Already Pay Double U.S. Avg., Proposal Comes as Half of NYC's
50+ Worry about Paying Utility Bills

NEW YORK, Oct. 9, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- With the harsh Northeast
winter months on their way, Con Edison is looking to push residential
customers' bills even higher than the already
highest-in-the-continental-U.S.-rates they currently pay. The $420 million
proposed rate hike has drawn the ire of AARP, which says seniors and families
- already having difficulty paying New York City's sky high utility bills -
will be hit the hardest.

AARP members will make the case against the Con Ed proposal at rate hike
hearings before the Public Service Commission tonight (at 5:30 p.m., PSC, 90
Church Street, New York, NY) and tomorrow (5:30 p.m. Yonkers Public Library,
Riverfront Branch, Yonkers, NY). The PSC is expected to make a ruling on the
rate hike in the coming weeks.

"Another Con Ed rate hike would be disastrous news for many New Yorker's
kitchen table economies; middle class families and older adults are already
performing a delicate balancing act," said Beth Finkel, State Director for
AARP in New York State. "This rate hike is unwarranted and AARP is calling on
the PSC to deny it."

According to a recent AARP analysis of data compiled from the U.S. Energy
Information Administration, Con Ed's residential customers are already paying
more than twice (117% more) the national average for their electricity. If
approved, the Con Ed hike would see those current rates soar by 8%. The
utility giant's rates are already on the rise, with electric consumers paying
roughly 4% more than they did last year.

The majority (58%) of New York City's 50+ population is already extremely to
very concerned about paying their rent in the coming years, and 48% are
similarly concerned about paying their utility bills, according to a recent
AARP survey of 50+ voters in the city. Utility increases hit older New Yorkers
particularly hard, since many are on fixed incomes and must sometimes choose
between paying the rent, the utility bill or the grocery bill.

When it comes to Con Ed rates, residential consumers are bearing the brunt.
Last year, rates for commercial users actually dropped, while commercial rates
increase at just half that of residential rates. 

"Utility companies should not be able to balance their corporate check books
on the backs of residential consumers," added Finkel. "We need a level playing
field in New York; residential consumers are the only class that seems to get
left out of rate hike cases because they don't have the same money to hire
high priced consultants and attorneys as other classes, such as commercial and
industrial, do."

Con Ed's current rates are already problematic for many, with the utility
company shutting off 81,148 people last year for non-payment (222 people a
day, more than 9 homes every hour). In January and February of 2012 alone,
10,904 customers had their utility service shut off.  The proposed hike would
take effect in January, 2014.

The Association says this all adds fuel to the need for a utility consumer
advocate office in New York to represent the needs of residential consumers in
rate hike and complex regulatory matters before the PSC. Establishing the
office is key part of the utility recommendations in Governor Andrew Cuomo's
Moreland Act Commission. AARP is calling on the Governor to propose the CUB,
or a similar adequately-funded and independent Office of Utility Consumer
Advocate, as part of the 2014-15 Executive Budget.

Forty other states – whose average residential electric rates are well below
those in New York - have strong, independent utility consumer advocate
functions. AARP urges New York to join them.

Follow us on Twitter: @AARPNY and Facebook: AARP New York

AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, with a membership of more than
37 million, that helps people turn their goals and dreams into real
possibilities, strengthens communities and fights for the issues that matter
most to families such as healthcare, employment and income security,
retirement planning, affordable utilities and protection from financial abuse.
We advocate for individuals in the marketplace by selecting products and
services of high quality and value to carry the AARP name as well as help our
members obtain discounts on a wide range of products, travel, and services. A
trusted source for lifestyle tips, news and educational information, AARP
produces AARP The Magazine, the world's largest circulation magazine; AARP
Bulletin; www.aarp.org; AARP TV & Radio; AARP Books; and AARP en Español, a
Spanish-language website addressing the interests and needs of Hispanics. AARP
does not endorse candidates for public office or make contributions to
political campaigns or candidates. AARP Foundation is an affiliated charity of
AARP that is working to win back opportunity for struggling Americans 50+ by
being a force for change on the most serious issues they face today: housing,
hunger, income and isolation. AARP has staffed offices in all 50 states, the
District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Learn more
at www.aarp.org.

SOURCE AARP New York

Website: http://www.aarp.org
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