Constantinides Blasts Con Edison Rate Hike

Left to right: Queens College Prof. Stephen Pekar, NYC Council member and candidate for Queens Borough President Costa Constantinides, and Rockaway Beach Civic Association President Bridget Klapinski. Photo: Courtesy of the Constantinides campaign

ASTORIA – New York City Council Member Costa Constantinides, Chair of the Committee on Environmental Protection, issued the following statement on the Public Service Commission’s 4-1 vote on January 16 to allow Con Edison to raise electricity rates by an average 4.2% and gas rates by an average 7.5% this year. The decision came despite strong opposition to the rate hike, which will boost energy costs for homeowners and invest in natural gas infrastructure:

“The Public Service Commission today put a for-profit utility and the fossil fuel industry ahead of hard-working New Yorkers. Commissioners gave Con Edison their blessing to raise rates off the backs of people already struggling to pay their bills. History will be unkind to this decision, which will chain us to new fossil fuel infrastructure for generations to come. ConEd will now be able to lay more natural gas pipes throughout our City, which is a major revenue source for this dividend-driven company. This flies in the face of the City’s Climate Mobilization Act and the State’s Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, both of which effectively mandated a 100-percent renewable grid. That should be our focus – not recommitting to the status quo that has brought us to the edge of climate catastrophe.

“I was proud to have stood with the NYC-DSA Ecosocialist Working Group, the Sane Energy Project, New York Communities for Change, and other dedicated activists who called out the bad deal this was. At a town hall we hosted on this rate hike last July, we heard overwhelming testimony about the negative impacts this will have on middle-class families as well as our environment. Queens residents have already bore many burdens of powering New York City. They deserve better than what was handed down by the PSC today.

“Today’s decision only underscores why we’re beyond due for a public utility here in New York City. Giving control of our power system to the people is perhaps the only way we’re guaranteed to truly transition toward clean, renewable energy. For too long, we’ve been conned by pseudo-monopolies who claim they’re delivering a public service while they clearly prioritize shareholders’ dividends. Sustainable, reliable electricity should be a fundamental human right, yet it appears clear not everyone will be afforded this until we literally take back our power. I’m committed to working with our partners both here in Queens and in Albany to make this a reality.”

Council Member Costa Constantinides represents the New York City Council’s 22nd District, which includes his native Astoria along with parts of Woodside, East Elmhurst, and Jackson Heights. He serves as the chair of the City Council’s Environmental Protection Committee and sits on three additional committees: Sanitation, Resiliency, and Technology.

For more information, visit council.nyc.gov/costa.