The Fossil Fuel Investments Driving Up ConEd Energy Bills

New York Focus, July 6, 2022

ConEd wants to jack up electric bills by 10 percent, and gas by 15 percent. Here’s what that would pay for.

Published in partnership with the Albany Times Union.

In February of 1973, a tank storing liquefied natural gas (LNG) exploded on Staten Island, killing 40 workers who had been cleaning it. It was one of the worst industrial accidents in New York City’s history and prompted the state to ban new LNG facilities. Yet two chugged on: one maintained by National Grid in Brooklyn, and the other by Con Edison in Astoria, Queens. 

Almost fifty years later, both are still operating, with no plans of shutting down any time soon. ConEd, like National Grid, is instead seeking approval from state regulators to spend millions upgrading its LNG plant. The $65 million in proposed upgrades are just one in a long list of investments ConEd plans to make in its electric and gas systems by 2025, with regular utility customers footing the bill. 

If state regulators sign off on ConEd’s proposal, customers would be on the hook for a total $1.4 billion in spending next year, split between the utility’s electric operations ($1 billion) and gas ($400 million). That would mean a 10 percent jump in electric bills, and a 15 percent jump for gas, starting in January. Those hikes—the steepest in at least fifteen years, if approved—would likely be followed by more in 2024 and 2025.

The utility presents the spending as a win-win for customers. The proposed investments will improve service and make the grid more resilient in severe weather, spokesperson Allan Drury told New York Focus—while also supporting the state’s climate goals, since some of the funds would go toward clean energy projects.

But ConEd also plans to sink hundreds of millions into its existing fossil fuel systems—investments that New York City officials and environmental advocates say would run counter to state climate law, which requires the power sector to transition to 100 percent clean energy by 2040.

>> Read the full article at New York Focus or an abridged version at the Times UNiON
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