N.Y. AG praises PSC ruling on Con Ed

By Bryan Cohen | Feb 24, 2014

NEW YORK (Legal Newsline) - New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman praised the New York State Public Service Commission on Thursday for its ruling in a utility hearing that he says will protect systems from climate change and hold rates steady.

On Thursday, the PSC ruled that Consolidated Edison must spend $1 billion to protect its systems from the consequences of severe storms while keeping rates consistent. Con Ed must also take part in an in-depth study of its system's vulnerability to climate change.

"Hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers suffered from Con Ed electricity outages when Sandy hit New York state in 2012," Schneiderman said. "Today's ruling by the Public Service Commission is an important step toward ensuring that the widespread power outages left in the storm's wake will not be repeated."

The PSC ruling occurred after Con Ed requested in January 2013 to increase its rates for its steam, gas and electric customers while proposing a $1 billion storm-hardening plan to protect its systems from the effects of climate change. Schneiderman's office intervened in the matter and alleged that Con Ed's plans failed to adequately address the risks posed by climate change, such as increased heat waves and precipitation and a rise in the sea level.

"My office played a key role in this proceeding, focusing attention on the real and increasing threat that climate change poses to Con Edison's infrastructure and, ultimately, its customers," Schneiderman said. "I am pleased that both Con Ed and the PSC listened, and the company has committed to taking actions necessary to ensure that New Yorkers continue to receive safe and reliable utility service in a time of increasingly extreme weather."

As part of the ruling, Con Ed must immediately implement storm-hardening and resiliency projects, support an ongoing collaborative discussion among the involved parties, conduct a risk-cost benefit evaluation model, explore additional resiliency initiatives, increase the replacement of leak-prone gas pipes, facilitate the switch from heavy heating oil to natural gas for building heating and measure methane losses in the company's gas system.

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