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PSC Meeting Review

The Public Service Commission held session last week, voting on agenda items which were presented to and discussed by the commission as well as approving a lengthy consent agenda. Among the highlights include the following actions:

PSC Adopts $200 Million Energy Bill Credit

The PSC adopted a $200 million New York State energy bill credit to be administered by the large electric and gas utilities on behalf of their customers. The energy bill credit is a one-time credit using State-appropriated funds to provide energy bill relief to more than 8 million directly metered electric and gas customers. The result of the bill credit will be an average of $14.98 per gas and electric customer.

The program, proposed by the Energy Affordability Policy working group, provides that the $200 million appropriation included in the FY2023-24 State Budget will be allocated to customer accounts through a one-time credit within roughly 45 days of the utilities receiving budget funds. The Department of Public Service (DPS), in consultation with the Energy Affordability Policy working group, was tasked with designing a utility bill relief program related to the costs of utility affordability programs in recognition of energy commodity cost increases and the costs of utilities’ delivery rate increases. The working group considered multiple proposals over several months to effectuate the desired relief. The majority of the working group agreed to the staff proposal after several key modifications and recommended the PSC implement a one-time energy bill credit that would primarily benefit residential and small business electric and gas customers.

PSC Approves Major Underground Transmission Line in Rockland County

The PSC adopted the terms of the joint proposal signed by Orange and Rockland Utilities, Inc., trial staff of the DPS, the DEC, the DOT, the Department of Agriculture and Markets, the County of Rockland and the Town of Clarkstown. The $57.8 million project is a new 138 kilovolt (kV) underground transmission line, primarily within the public roadway rights-of-way (ROW), for a total distance of approximately five-and-one-half miles between the Burns substation and the West Nyack Substation in the Town of Clarkstown, Rockland County.

According to the joint proposal, the new power line is needed to relieve potential overloading of O&R’s existing 138 kV overhead Line 702 between its Burns and Oak Street substations. Recent summer studies indicate that the power flow on the existing line will exceed its capacity if an outage occurs on another 138 kV line serving the region. Additional anticipated loads from proposed data centers in the Orangetown area will increase the potential for overloading under the same contingency.

Should such overloads occur, load transfers to adjacent substations will be needed and, if the overloading persists, load shedding will occur to prevent damage to the existing conductors. Once completed, the project will immediately alleviate loads on the existing line, improving the regional transmission network’s overall resiliency and power source reliability to southern Rockland County, while utilizing existing ROW without visual impacts.

PSC Initiates Proceeding Regarding Private Ulster County Water Company

The PSC commenced a proceeding to determine if Hudson Valley Water Companies, Inc. failed to provide safe, adequate and reliable service to its customers. The proceeding will determine whether the Commission should appoint a temporary operator for the company for failing to ensure the provision of safe and adequate service to its 434 customers.

Department of Public Service staff contends, after an initial investigation showing apparent instances of inconsistent operational and managerial actions, as well as inconsistent and ineffective improvements, that the company has not shown it has the capability to consistently operate its five small water systems in Ulster County. The company’s service areas include Boiceville, Mt. Marion, High Falls, Pine Street, and West Hurley, and are located within the following four Ulster County municipalities: the towns of Olive, Saugerties, Rosendale, and Hurley (both Pine Street and West Hurley systems are located in the Town of Hurley), respectively.

By March 1, 2024, Hudson Valley is directed to show cause why the Commission should not order and appoint a temporary operator for Hudson Valley pursuant to Public Service Law section 112-a. Under that process, the company will have an opportunity to respond to the Staff’s contentions.