Column: Financial burden caused by Con Ed rate hikes are not acceptable

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Con Edison will claim that they only distribute energy and don’t generate it, thus as the cost of natural gas goes up, they need to raise their prices, according to City Councilmember Marjorie Velázquez.
Photo courtesy Con Edison

I’m sure by now many of you have heard of or unfortunately experienced Con Edison’s recent rate hike fiasco. It has been suggested that hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers are behind on their energy bills, including many in the Bronx. Some bills increased by more than 200% with no warning, creating a significant and unexpected financial burden. I have heard from countless people that these bills have caused difficulty in paying their monthly expenses, which is not only unfair and unjust, but bad public policy.

As your representative, I am working with Attorney General Letitia James as well as the City Council Committee on Consumer Affairs and Worker Protection to address the rate hike. I recently wrote a letter with the attorney general and my other colleagues to Con Edison demanding answers for the spike in utility bills and how the amount charged per kilowatt for electricity almost tripled. Con Edison needs to answer how and why these increases occurred without any concern for our residents or families.  

Since sending the letter, I have been speaking with Con Edison’s representatives. Con Edison will claim that they only distribute energy and don’t generate it, thus as the cost of natural gas goes up, they need to raise their prices. But that response is insufficient when people simply don’t have alternative electricity options, and were not warned in advance about the exorbitant increase. After the recent pushback, they are working on sending notices to all customers with price predictions on bills multiple times a year. My office will be working to make sure that information is appropriately distributed to everyone within our community so that people can be aware of future price changes.

In the meantime, if you are in need of assistance, please reach out to my office or Con Edison, which can help with payment plan assistance, payment extensions, senior services, as well as other programs to help reduce your energy costs.

A company with annual profits in the billions should not be pushing people into debt for trying to keep their family warm in the winter. Know that as your council member, and chair of the Committee on Consumer and Worker Protection, I will continue fighting for you.

Marjorie Velázquez is a member of the New York City Council representing the 13th District in the Bronx. 

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