21 Aug Article: Who Pays for Utility Repairs From Storm Damage?
You do, through higher rates.
You may think those bottles of water and dry ice being distributed by New York State Electric & Gas Corp. at emergency relief centers during power interruptions are free.
The goods are free to those utility customers without power, but someone’s got to eventually foot the bill for emergency repairs across New York State as well as pay for all those cases of bottled water — it’s you.
Every one of the the NYSEG’s approximate 886,000 electric customers will shell out future cash for repairs from the past week’s two storms that left thousands in Putnam, Westchester and Sullivan County in the dark for extended periods, some up to a week.
Ratepayers eventually cover the costs for line crew overtime. Additionally, customers will assume to costs for transporting, accommodating, feeding and paying supplemental teams from Maine, Connecticut and Canada brought in to restore power after nearly 2,000 downed lines were reported from the March 2 storm and the subsequent dumping five days later on March 7. At the peak, NYSEG’s parent, Avangrid, said it had 2,000 people responding to storm damage.
Watch for the costs to be included in the utility’s next rate case coming due in two years, but probably submitted for consideration tothe Public Service Commission in mid-2019. Most, if not all, reasonable costs are recoverable, based on past practice by the New York PSC.
There’s precedence for storm recovery costs. A five-year electric rate plan approved by the PSC in 2015 allowed NYSEG to recover $260 million in damage and recovery costs incurred from 2010 through 2015.
About half of the cost was incurred during Tropical Storm Lee and Hurricane Irene in 2011, and Hurricane Sandy in 2012. Recovery of repair costs for these super storms was spread out over 10 years, according to the rate plan.
Past practice doesn’t necessarily spell out future policy, Public Service Commission representatives said.
For instance, the amount that Rochester Electric & Gas Corp., also a unit of Avangrid, will be allowed to recover in repair costs from a 2017 wind storm is under dispute and subject to extensive proceedings. In the storm’s aftermath, more than 100,000 RG&E customers lost power, and three days after the storm more than 50,000 customers remained without power.
Platsky, J. (2018). Who pays for utility repairs from storm damage? You do, through higher rates. [online] pressconnects. Available at: https://www.pressconnects.com/story/news/local/2018/03/09/who-pays-utility-repairs-storm-damage-you-do-through-higher-ny-nyseg-rates/399191002/ [Accessed 5 Aug. 2019].