Public Power Groups Protest National Grid Rate Hike Hearings

Syracuse, NY – National Grid says it needs a $400 million rate increase to maintain its profit margin, due to increasing operating costs, but the Public Power Coalition - and a number of other groups - say they will protest outside Public Service Commission (PSC) hearings today in Syracuse and speak against the proposed increase at the hearings.

The PSC has criticized National Grid's proposal, after reports found the utility included excessive charges in its calculations.

Jessica Maxwell is a spokeswoman for the Syracuse Peace Council (one of the groups participating in the protests). She says the PSC's previous criticism of the National Grid proposal makes the outcome of today's hearings uncertain.

"It was some of their own people who discovered the scandal with National Grid's finances and the inappropriate expenses being passed on," she says, "and it's, again, their staff who is recommending that there be a full investigation and audit. So I think that gives us some hope that maybe even this time they're seeing that there's a real problem here."

The PSC had originally recommended National Grid lower its rates by $14 million. The commission then concluded the utility should only raise its rates by $37 million, not the $403 million it's requesting.