Companies propose upgrading infrastructure and investing in smart technology to improve reliability and customer service
Today, New York State Electric & Gas (NYSEG) and Rochester Gas and Electric (RG&E), subsidiaries of AVANGRID, Inc. (NYSE: AGR), announced the companies have filed proposed changes to delivery rates with the New York State Public Service Commission (NYSPSC). The plans, titled “Reliable Energy New York: Investing in Our Future,” outline a proposal for each company that include infrastructure investments for a more resilient, sustainable and smart system, more resources to support customers and local communities, energy efficiency programs and investments to enable renewable energy, as well as economic development proposals that will help build cleaner, healthier communities. As inflation and other economic impacts affecting customers here in New York and across the country, the companies recognize the importance of balancing the critical investments our grid requires as well as the needs and expectations of our customers.
Under the “Reliable Energy NY” proposals, NYSEG and RG&E will replace aging infrastructure and make smart investments for a more resilient system that can minimize the impacts of climate change on the energy system. The companies will also further encourage customers, community partners and business clients to adopt sustainable tools and technologies and support them as they make the transition to clean energy. That transition will lower their overall impact on the environment and give them more control over their total energy consumption and costs.
“Reliable Energy NY” proposes a rate structure that would add $10-18 to the average electric or gas residential customer's monthly delivery costs, or a 13-22% increase on each total bill. New delivery rates are proposed to go into effect May 1, 2023. Even with these proposed increases in delivery rates, the companies will continue to have among the lowest electric and gas rates in New York.
Key aspects of the “Reliable Energy NY” plans include investments in:
- Reliability and resilience, which includes upgrades to critical infrastructure like substations to limit the impacts of increased flooding, installing more than 10,000 new, stronger poles a year and tree wire that can withstand more intense and more frequent storms, increased and smart tree trimming driven by data and analytics.
- More customer resources including increased automated options to reflect our customers’ preferences for interacting with us, enhanced resources for customers who are elderly (typically on a fixed income) or are low-to-moderate income (LMI), and additional employees for our customer call centers to respond to customer questions and concerns. We will assist disadvantaged communities and LMI customers through focused energy efficiency program offerings, such as our ongoing collaboration and support of NYSERDA’s Empower Program, which promotes free energy audits and efficiency upgrades for income-eligible customers. We will provide ongoing referrals from our low-income billing assistance programs. Additionally, continued participation in the Statewide Affordable Energy Efficiency Multi-Family Program (AMEEP) will allow us to provide free energy audits and efficiency upgrades for low-income, multi-family dwellings.
- Investments in smart technology including more grid automation tools to reduce outage impacts and manage outages remotely – these investments will mean that when outages do occur, they will be identified earlier and power can be restored faster and fewer customers will be affected. The plans also propose the development of an e-portal for municipalities to check on the status of service interruptions, impacts on critical facilities and restoration status, and investing in an automated customer communications system to ensure positive contact with customers who use life support equipment (LSE) during storms.
- Enabling clean energy. The existing New York energy grid was not built with renewable energy sources in mind. That’s why we are proposing investments in smart technology that will improve reliability and enable us to connect more renewables, like wind and solar, to our system more effectively, efficiently and safely. In addition, our investments will help achieve emissions reductions through supporting electrification of buildings and transportation. The plans also propose procuring 11MW of company-owned battery storage and another 70MW of company-owned solar for low-income customers, supporting adoption of our Heat Pump Make-Ready program, and expanding EV infrastructure by 700% to support New York’s mandate of over 161,000 EVs in our service territories by 2025. Our low-income retail lighting program helps customers choose LED light bulbs over traditional or halogen incandescent bulbs through informational signage and discounts at big box stores and local retailers, as well as through LED bulb donations to area food banks. In our gas distribution business, we will continue our gas leak-prone pipe replacement programs while looking for opportunities to invest in green hydrogen and renewable natural gas blending.
Under the Public Service Law, the rates proposed in “Reliable Energy NY” are for a one-year period and will not immediately go into effect upon filing; the filing starts an 11-month process. The process includes a review of the filings by the Department of Public Service and other interested parties, questions to NYSEG and RG&E and, as appropriate, responsive testimony. During this process, we will seek to engage in discussions with parties regarding potential multi-year rate recovery of costs to mitigate annual impacts on customers.
About NYSEG: New York State Electric & Gas Corporation (NYSEG) is a subsidiary of AVANGRID, Inc. Established in 1852, NYSEG operates approximately 35,000 miles of electric distribution lines and 4,500 miles of electric transmission lines across more than 40% of upstate New York. It also operates more than 8,150 miles of natural gas distribution pipelines and 20 miles of gas transmission pipelines. It serves approximately 894,000 electricity customers and 266,000 natural gas customers. For more information, visit www.nyseg.com.
About RG&E: Rochester Gas and Electric Corporation (RG&E) is a subsidiary of AVANGRID, Inc. Established in 1848, RG&E operates approximately 8,800 miles of electric distribution lines and 1,100 miles of electric transmission lines. It also operates approximately 10,600 miles of natural gas distribution pipelines and 105 miles of gas transmission pipelines. It serves approximately 378,500 electricity customers and 313,000 natural gas customers in a nine-county region in New York surrounding the City of Rochester. For more information, visit www.rge.com.
About AVANGRID: AVANGRID, Inc. (NYSE: AGR) aspires to be the leading sustainable energy company in the United States. Headquartered in Orange, CT with approximately $40 billion in assets and operations in 24 U.S. states, AVANGRID has two primary lines of business: Avangrid Networks and Avangrid Renewables. Avangrid Networks owns and operates eight electric and natural gas utilities, serving more than 3.3 million customers in New York and New England. Avangrid Renewables owns and operates a portfolio of renewable energy generation facilities across the United States. AVANGRID employs more than 7,000 people and has been recognized by JUST Capital in 2021 and 2022 as one of the JUST 100 companies – a ranking of America’s best corporate citizens. In 2022, AVANGRID ranked second within the utility sector for its commitment to the environment and the communities it serves. The company supports the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goals and was named among the World’s Most Ethical Companies in 2022 for the fourth consecutive year by the Ethisphere Institute. For more information, visit www.avangrid.com.
Kelly Packard, NYSEG Eastern New York (Auburn, Binghamton, Brewster, Ithaca,
Liberty, Mechanicville, Oneonta and Plattsburgh)
Julio Saenz, RG&E (Rochester) and NYSEG Western New York (Lancaster,
Lockport, Elmira, Hornell and Geneva regions)