Con Ed Customers Jolted Again as Refunds Delayedgreenspun.com : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread
Friday, September 08, 2000
Con Ed Customers Jolted Again as Refunds Delayed
By KEVIN McCOY Daily News Staff Writer
ost-shocked Con Edison customers will not get the September electric bill refunds authorized by Gov. Pataki and state lawmakers, the state's chief utility regulator ruled yesterday.
The Public Service Commission delayed the $162 million refund to allow more time for comment on reimbursements to Con Ed ratepayers for higher utility bills caused by the shutdown of the Indian Point 2 nuclear plant.
Commission Chairwoman Maureen Helmer ruled "it is in the customers' best interest" to delay the refunds pending a decision on Con Ed's request for a federal court injunction to block the refunds.
The company's lawsuit "creates at least some uncertainty" about the legality of the special Con Ed refund law enacted last month, Helmer wrote.
Her order means a delay of at least weeks and possibly far longer in average $14 refunds originally scheduled to be issued Monday to Con Ed residential customers in the city.
It also created an unusual stalemate in which the intended impact of a law reluctantly signed by Pataki last month was blunted by one of his appointees.
"It seems to be another chapter in the ongoing saga of 'The Consumer Comes Last,'" said Assembly Energy Committee Chairman Paul Tonko (D-Amsterdam), one of several state officials and consumer advocates who condemned the commission order.
Attorney General Eliot Spitzer said said he may go to court to overturn the ruling. Assemblyman Richard Brodsky (D-Westchester), a main sponsor of the refund law, called on Pataki to pressure his Public Service Commission appointees for an immediate reversal.
"This is now squarely on the governor's desk," said Brodsky.
Pataki aides did not immediately respond to several requests seeking comment.
Con Ed spokesman Michael Clendenin said the delay would spare Con Ed customers from the prospect of having to hand back the refunds if the utility were to win its court fight.
"Our concern has been to avoid potential confusion for our customers down the road if the law is overturned," said Clendenin. "We hope the courts resolve this matter expeditiously."
The order represents a fresh financial shock for more than 3 million Con Ed electrical customers already jolted by hikes of at least 43% in their summer bills because of electrical industry deregulation and high fuel costs.
-- Martin Thompson (firstname.lastname@example.org), September 09, 2000