PSC prohibits listing CES cost as single line item in power bills

| Watertown Daily Times

The New York state Public Service Commission does not want utility companies to list the cost of the Clean Energy Standard as its own line item on individual utility bills.

Last week, the Empire Center reported, the PSC directed a handful of power companies that operate in New York state, such as National Grid, ConEdison and NYSEG, to include the cost of clean energy on existing bill lines and supply charges, despite each power company’s request to have the cost be listed separately.

Later this year, ratepayers will be charged about an extra $2 per month, which will go toward subsidizing nuclear and renewable energy plants, such as wind and solar, as part of the state’s Clean Energy Standard. The initiative aims to power half of New York state with renewables by 2030. Utility companies, and others who buy energy directly from the grid, must purchase renewable energy credits and zero-emissions credits from the state to provide the subsidies. Each credit is estimated to cost around $40.

The PSC must approve of how power companies, depending on their tariffs filed with the PSC, will present power costs to customers. According to its ruling, the decision will “maintain general consistency among the Utilities and limit customer confusion resulting from the addition of new lines on customers’ bills.”

But Empire Center Analyst Kenneth D. Girardin argued that the PSC declined the option because explicitly presenting the rate would show that the cost could grow beyond the $2 minimum charge promised by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo last year.

“It would open the door to showing New Yorkers just how much Albany artificially inflates the cost of electricity through politically motivated mandates,” Mr. Girardin said.

The Empire Center predicts that the rate could exceed $3 per month by 2021, based on the number of RECs needed to cover increased reliance on renewable energy sources over time.

Stephen F. Brady, spokesman for National Grid, said ratepayers will be charged about $1.94 per month this year. The cost is calculated based on an average 600 kilowatt-hours per month used by each ratepayer, multiplied by 0.00322 cents.

Mr. Brady said the individual line item for the Clean Energy Standard cost as one of two options power companies presented to the commission. The other option was to include the cost with other line items, which the PSC agreed to.

Regardless, Mr. Brady noted that National Grid customers, as well as customers of other power companies, can view a full breakdown of a utility bill online.

“Any penny or fraction of a penny we propose to collect from customers is itemized on the various tariffs on our website,” Mr. Brady said.

© 2017 Watertown Daily Times