Consolidated Edison officials defended the utility’s proposed rate increases for 2020 before the New York City Council this week. During the heated hearing, Con Edison executives also responded to pointed questions about the blackout that hit Manhattan in July.
The investor-owned utility, which delivers electricity to 10 million people in New York City and Westchester County, proposed new 2020 rates in January ranging from 4.3 to 5.8% on average.
“For a typical commercial customer using 10,800 kilowatt hours with a peak demand of 30 kilowatts, the monthly bill would increase $80.96 to $1,970.67, an increase of 4.3% (8% on delivery),” the utility estimated at the time. The higher rates would fund investments in infrastructure, enhance safety, and improve reliability, Con Edison officials said.
Executives defended the increase at a City Hall hearing on Wednesday, Will Bredderman reported in Crains New York Business. “To conduct work at any place in the city is expensive,” David DeSanti, Con Ed’s vice president for Brooklyn and Queens said, according to Bredderman. “The rate increase we’re asking for is not money to put in our pockets. It’s money to invest in the system.”
New York City Council members grilled DeSanti and his colleagues about the blackout in July, when around 72,000 customers on Manhattan’s West Side lost power for hours. Record heat caused additional outages in other parts of the city.
“The events in southeast Brooklyn and on the West Side of Manhattan happened because — despite our strategic, target investments — our system is not perfect,” DeSanti responded, the Wall Street Journal’s Katie Honan reported.
The utility attributed the outage that affected Manhattan to a faulty cable, not an aging infrastructure, Honan wrote. “Con Edison has spent more than $200 million on the grid in southeast Brooklyn during the past decade and invested more than $1.5 billion each year across the city since 2015,” the executives told City Council members, according to Honan.
Summertime outages prompted New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio to order investigations into Con Edison. Bredderman noted that Cuomo has discussed rescinding the utility’s franchise while de Blasio has talked about turning it into a public entity.