By Jill Colvin
MANHATTAN — Mayor Michael Bloomberg is pushing back on a plan to hike the city's energy bills, warning that it would cause "severe hardship" for residents and businesses.
On January 28, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission issued an order allowing the New York Independent System Operator to raise its rates.
The ISO argued that the current cost structure is unfair. But the mayor and Sen. Charles Schumer are urging the commission to reconsider.
"The economic impact of this Order on the residents and businesses of New York City would be severe," Mayor Michael Bloomberg wrote to the FERC chairman in a letter dated March 25.
Bloomberg said that the "unreasonable and unnecessary" increases in capacity prices would push residents' utility bills up by more than 10 percent and increase rates for business customers during summer months by more than 14 percent.
That's on top of another four percent rate hike from Con Ed that had been set to kick in Friday, according to the New York Post, which first reported the news.
Transmitting companies like Con Ed would get no share of the ISO’s cut, the Post said.
Bloomberg said Friday that he understood the motivation for the raise, but was surprised by the move.
"These utilities have to be profitable or they can't raise money and can’t improve the service, but it’s also very hard on people and businesses to pay higher energy costs," he said during his weekly sit-down with WOR’s John Gambling.
"It’s a pretty big increase," he said.
The commission is currently considering arguments to reverse the order, spokesman Craig Cano said. He declined to comment further pending a decision.
In addition to discussing the power deal, the mayor also weighed in Friday on the impact of the state budget cuts, which he said would force the city to lay off teachers as well as reduce the size of the police and fire departments.
Asked by a caller why the city wasn’t suing the governor for a larger piece of the education aid pie, Bloomberg said the idea was, in fact, something he’d considered.
"The bottom line is we cannot sue the state over this. We’ve looked at that. The state legislature does have the right to cut us more," he said.
Still, he said, "I don’t think it’s fair."