Federal regulators today overturned an order that would have zapped New York City residential electric bills by 10 percent to 12 percent.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission acted barely 24 hours after Albany lawmakers passed a law that eliminated the reason for the shocking price increase.
If FERC’s original ruling stood, New Yorkers — who already pay some of the nation’s highest electricity prices — would have forked over an estimated $1.5 billion to the generating companies over the next three years.
"Ding, dong, the electricity rate hike’s dead!" crowed Sen. Charles Schumer, who griped about the whopping increase in a phone call to FERC chairman Jon Wellinghoff.
New York City rate payers can breathe a sigh of relief this summer knowing they won’t be forced to carry the burden of a double digit rate hike while power generators laugh all the way to the bank," Schumer said. The Post first reported the shocking increase last month, and followed up with stories showing how FERC has failed city consumers. Meanwhile, Schumer, Gov. Cuomo and Mayor Bloomberg ramped up their battle against the rate hike, which FERC had granted to electric generating companies with plants in New York City. Con Ed, which passes on the generators’ charges to consumers without markup, also joined the fight. "It’s a fantastic decision for our customers. There was no reason for them to be hit with this unjust rate hike," said Con Ed spokesman Michael Clendenin. Generating companies had claimed that city property-tax breaks they get as a matter of routine are not written into state law, they’d have to charge customers as if they were paying full property taxes. Federal regulators were not swayed by the city’s promise to give the tax breaks to the plants on its own. While city, state and other groups battled FERC’s reasoning by filing papers with the commission, the Legislature also went to work on a bill that would write the generators’ property tax breaks into law. In its 41-page ruling, FERC said that after Cuomo signed the law on Wednesday, there was no longer any need for the whopping rate boost. "This development ameliorates the concerns that the commission had," the commission said in the ruling, posted on its Web site late in the afternoon.