Storm-Weary Residents Say A Bigger Bill Is The Last Thing They Need Right Now

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Con Edison is seeking a new rate hike to pay for improvements in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. The utility wants to harden the system and be able to give customers a more accurate prediction of how long they’ll be in the dark.

In the West Village there are still buildings using temporary boilers because theirs were destroyed by Sandy’s, so you can just imagine how happy residents were to learn that Con Ed wants to hike their bill to pay for new flood-repelling equipment.

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“I think it’s sinful that they would raise anything after Sandy. We’re in need right now. Why would you hurt us even more? I say hell no,” resident Katherine Narducci told CBS 2’s Marcia Kramer on Friday.

“No, they don’t need to raise any more rates. Keep it [as it is] unless they come up with a really, really good argument,” Jan Heise added.

“The federal government should be chipping in the most when it comes to the backlash from the hurricane, but also, you know, we’re all still feeling the recession and Con Ed rates are already high as it is,” Trey Ditto said. “They should be the one who are finding the resources to fix our problems, instead of us.”

Con Ed said it wants to spend $1 billion to protect critical equipment from storms. The first $400 million installment will mean a rate hike of 3 percent.

The utility also said:

* The typical monthly bill in New York City would go from $81.64 to $84.55

* A Westchester residential bill would rise from $114.41 to $118

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* A small business bill would rise from $157.55 to $169.31

“We want to really strengthen our systems, storm harden if you will, because of what we’ve been seeing over the past couple of years, ending with Sandy,” Con Ed spokesman Mike Clendenin said.

After the devastation of the Hurricane that left some customers in the dark for more than two weeks, the company wants to prevent that type of scenario from every playing out again.

“We’ve got to do more to raise the system, flood protect it. Overhead lines, I think we can make them stronger or even potentially bury them underground,” Clendenin said.

The company said the upgrade will allow it to provide customers with more accurate, individual service restoration times, so you’ll know exactly how long you have to sit in the dark.

If it is approved by the Public Service Commission, the new rates will take effect next January.

For more information about Con Ed’s rate filing, click here.

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