BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB)- Customers could soon be shelling out more for electricity if National Grid gets its way. The company is proposing raising rates by $8.93 a month for the average customer.
“How can you make millions and millions of dollars in profit but tell us you need to raise the rates for people who can ill afford it?” said William Yelder, a member of the grassroots organization PUSH Buffalo.
He joined more than half a dozen other frustrated Buffalo residents to urge people to speak out against the rate hike.
“We hope that National Grid will stop this and start listening to the voices of the communities,” said Mariyamo Bakar, who represented the West Side’s immigrant community.
She said many new Americans are barely making ends meet.
“It means fathers and mothers spending more time at work having to work overtime, because that’s why most of our families have to do just to survive and pay their rent,” said Bakar.
PUSH Board Chair Maxine Murphy said it will also affect seniors on a fixed income.
“Nine dollars is the difference between a family having enough food to eat for the month,” said Murphy.
National Grid Regional Manager Ken Kujawa told News 4 the increase is necessary due to increased demand and worn down infrastructure. He said they need to upgrade equipment at substations and transmission towers.
“Anything that we can do to our infrastructure to improve safety and reliability for our customers,” said Kujawa.
He said to offset the cost for low income customers, they plan to increase the energy affordability program fund by about $50 million.
“Customer who are in our energy affordability programs, a good majority of them, will actually see their bills go down,” he said.
To request a rate change with the Public Service Commission, National Grid had to put in for a one year rate hike.
Kujawa said they are asking to have it spread out over three years so it won’t be as high as $8.93.
The rate filing process takes 11 months. There will be public hearings and then Public Service Commission staff review the proposal and make suggestions. Kujawa said there are a number of other parties that will also weigh in.
“It’s not a done deal by any stretch of the imagination, we’re only a few months into the rate filing process,” said Kujawa. “It’s never easy when electric delivery prices are going to be increased.”
There will be public hearings with the Public Service Commission at 2pm and 6pm on Tuesday, Aug. 1 at the central library in downtown Buffalo.