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Earth Matters

Earth Matters: NYS Public Service Commission’s Disappointing Suez Decision

Earth Matters focuses on conservation, sustainability, recycling and healthy living.

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by Peggy Kurtz

On July 16, the Public Service Commission issued a decision in the latest Suez Water rate case. Suez will tell you that ratepayers came out ahead because the rate increase was delayed. The truth is quite different.

Ratepayers will pay back every penny owed to Suez since February. The payment was simply delayed.

In fact, in a profoundly disappointing decision, the Public Service Commission (PSC) rubber stamped an agreement with Suez.

I am one of the leaders of the Rockland Water Coalition, which has advocated for years for a sustainable water plan. Many of us are outraged at the decision.

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Here’s the truth:

  • Your water bills will increase by 34.5% over 4 years. According to a 2017 report by Comptroller Di Napoli, Rockland’s Suez customers already pay the highest water rates in the state. We are also paying off a $54 million surcharge for Suez’s failed desalination project, which was never built.
  • Despite a severe economic crisis, the Commission gave the company 4 more years to prepare a low-income assistance plan. In total, it will have taken the company 8 years to prepare a plan, longer than it took to build the new Mario Cuomo Bridge.
  • The PSC rubber stamped Suez’s ineffective conservation plan without a single modification, despite significant problems and solutions identified by citizen advocates, professional watchdog groups, and experts. The failure of an ineffective conservation plan could lead in a few years to still more extraordinary expenses for desalination or wastewater reuse.

It is difficult to understand why Suez would resist all improvements to their conservation plan. And it’s beyond frustrating to see that the PSC decision barely even engaged with the substantive issues raised in the case. Rockland ratepayers deserve better.

Read Earth Matters every Wednesday on Nyack News And Views, or sign up for the Earth Matters mailing list.

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