NEW CITY, N.Y. – Rockland chief Ed Day would like to sink the state’s recent decision on a rate hike for customers of Suez New York Water.
The county executive said Tuesday that the state Public Service Commission didn’t go far enough to protect consumers.
The state granted Suez a $4.87 million rate increase, $960,000 less than the water supplier had requested. But, Day contended, this is merely “a dent in the costs.”
“It's certainly not a victory for the ratepayers of Rockland County,” he added.
The approval means the average Rockland water customer will likely pay a total of $122 more over the next three years, Day said.
Suez's director of external affairs, Bill Madden, said Tuesday that the utility had not yet received the PSC's order.
“We understand it may be approximately 100 pages in length. This is a very complex and lengthy ruling that deserves very careful consideration," Madden said.
Suez will analyze the order "thoroughly" before responding to the PSC and its customers, he added.
According to the county, the state also ruled that Rockland ratepayers are on the hook for $31 million in costs associated with a desalination plant that was never built. Suez had asked for $39 million.
"We continue to maintain that the people of Rockland should not have to pay expenses related to the failed water desalination plant," Day said. “The ratepayers in Rockland did nothing to deserve these costs.”
Rockland has sued, claiming that the PSC has failed to protect consumers from having to absorb “exorbitant” costs related to the demise of the plant plans.
The decision by the PSC issued Tuesday has no bearing on the lawsuit, Day said.
Meanwhile, Sen. David Carlucci, D-Rockland/Westchester, weighed in Tuesday, slamming the PSC for giving the thumbs-up to the rate hike.
Carlucci, the new chairman of the Senate’s Consumer Protection Committee, said he plans to co-sponsor and advance legislation creating a dedicated utility consumer advocate who would “be an independent voice” during rate hike proceedings.
Calling Suez’s planned hike “outrageous,” Carlucci said the utility must be kept “accountable.”
The position is necessary, Carlucci said, so residents have a say “when facing unscrupulous utilities looking to make profits on the backs of the consumer.”
According to the senator, 40 others states already have independent agencies that represent the interests of utility customers.
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