In New York, public utilities are natural monopolies because the infrastructure required to produce and deliver a product such as electricity, gas or water is very expensive to build and maintain. Having more than one company building infrastructure would make our streets a mess. As a result, they are granted special status as monopolies, but are overseen and regulated by the Public Service Commission to ensure accountability to the public. However, utilities can easily take advantage of their power… watch this 2 minute video below about the big picture and how to TAKE ACTION!
How do I take ACTION?
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Fun Facts & Background: In the 1800’s New York City used to light our streets with gas lanterns. As the population grew, so did the amount of gas companies looking to corner the market. And since there was no regulation, they actually used to battle for customer turf in the streets of Manhattan. These guys were called “gas house gangs”. The invention of the incandescent bulb changed everything. Gas and electricity suppliers went head to head in competition. To make sense of a growing and complex grid, utilities were granted monopoly status in order to streamline energy delivery, and to prevent the grid from having dueling companies with double triple quadruple infrastructure. What a mess that would be! Watch our fun video below to make it easy:
In exchange for being entrusted with special monopoly status, each utility company operating in every region of New York is regulated. In the majority of New York, they are regulated by the Public Service Commission (PSC); And in Rockaway, Queens and Long Island, they are regulated by Long Island Power Authority. So for the most part, the Public Service Commission regulates our electricity, gas, water and telecoms in NYS. This means they are in charge of - pricing - and how our energy is generated. So the corporate utilities have to ask the PSC when they want to raise the prices or on our energy bills or build new infrastructure.
This process of asking for more money or development of infrastructure opens up a case which is called a Rate Case.
Right now in NYS many corporate utilities are asking to expand fossil fuel infrastructure, without considering renewable alternatives, and make us, the customers pay for it. Given our climate goals in NYS and climate goals globally to reduce GHG emissions, this makes no sense. This is big money wanting to keep business as usual. Let’s take action in the Consolidated Edison Rate Case right now. Together, one by one, we will build our power for community owned renewable energy.