New York power bills rise 12 per cent

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - New Yorkers are about to get zapped on their electric bills.

Starting May 28, households in the five boroughs will be socked with rate increases of up to 12 percent to run appliances — after the feds decided that power companies needed an extra $500 million a year, The Post has learned.

And that's on top of another 4 percent state-OK'd Con Ed rate hike that has already kicked in.

A typical apartment resident's electric bill of $74 — based on 250 kilowatt hours of power each month — will go up to $86, or $12 more than last July.

About $8 of that boost will come from the feds' decision.

Businesses will be hit even harder. A small firm that paid $406 last July will shell out $477 this July — a 17.5 percent boost.

About $59 of that comes courtesy of the feds.

Mayor Bloomberg and Sen. Charles Schumer are furious over the shocking ruling — and are urging the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to reconsider.

"The economic impact of this order on the residents and businesses of New York City would be severe," Bloomberg complained to the commission.

He said the "excessive increases" to power bills resulting from FERC's decision will cause "severe hardship."

Schumer told The Post: "New Yorkers shouldn't be forced to pay exorbitant electric rates because some faraway regulator decided not to look at all the evidence."

City officials say the feds granted the increase on the incorrect belief that power companies pay big property taxes.

But they get huge discounts on the tax in the city. And Bloomberg pointed out that the city has already awarded such breaks to power plants now being built.

In effect, the feds are letting generating companies get reimbursed "for costs they are not even paying," said Con Ed official Richard Miller said.

His company will take the blame from consumers but not make an extra penny, he said. That's because it doesn't generate power it only transmits it.

The privately owned generating companies have been bragging about what they call their "biggest victory ever" from utility regulators, said Miller.

"There's a windfall going on here.... They are totally thrilled with this decision," he said.

The generation companies say Schumer and Bloomberg are in no position to know how the ruling will affect bills.

FERC says it's willing to hear arguments over its ruling.

If it stands, the hike will stay in force for three years.

The generating companies will make the lion's share of their $500 million windfall in the summer months, when New Yorkers use the most electricity.

They'll draw less cash from the plan in the cooler months, when electricity use drops and customers' bills are lower.


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