NYSEG and RG&E Propose Emergency Financial Aid Program for Low-Income Natural Gas Heating Customers
Rochester, NY, September 27, 2005 – NYSEG and RG&E, subsidiaries of Energy East Corporation [NYSE: EAS], today filed a petition with the New York State Public Service Commission (PSC) to create an emergency financial aid fund for low-income natural gas heating customers as natural gas supply prices continue to climb in part because of the devastating effects of Hurricane Katrina. The companies expect that the fund of up to $22.6 million would benefit thousands of NYSEG and RG&E customers.
While the companies’ natural gas delivery prices have remained essentially flat for a decade, record high natural gas supply prices are expected to increase customers’ bills significantly this winter, said Jim Laurito, NYSEG and RG&E’s president. The companies have no control over natural gas supply prices and make no profit on the natural gas they sell to their customers.
NYSEG and RG&E asked for expeditious approval of the petition so the emergency financial aid program could be up and running before the end of the year. “Undoubtedly, the greatest impact of the projected substantial increase in natural gas heating bills will be on the household budgets of low-income customers,” Laurito said. “Time is of the essence in establishing this fund.”
Both NYSEG and RG&E propose to fund the financial aid for the emergency program from money already collected from customers.
NYSEG would make available from System Benefits Charge (SBC) funds up to approximately $15.6 million for its low-income natural gas heating customers. These SBC funds are normally passed on the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) on a quarterly basis for energy efficiency programs, assistance for low-income customers, and energy research and development. RG&E would use up to approximately $7 million for its low-income natural gas heating customers through the SBC fund. NYSERDA has not, to NYSEG and RG&E’s knowledge, earmarked any funds for low-income natural gas heating customers.
In the same petition to the PSC, RG&E has also proposed to provide extra help to all of its electricity delivery customers – some of whom are also low-income natural gas heating customers – by accelerating the pay out of its 2006 and 2007 refunds associated with the 2004 sale of its Ginna nuclear plant. The $15 million in refunds scheduled for 2006 and another $10 million in refunds scheduled for 2007 would be provided to RG&E electricity delivery customers in the first quarter of 2006.
About NYSEG and RG&E: NYSEG and RG&E are subsidiaries of Energy East Corporation [NYSE:EAS], a super-regional energy services and delivery company in the Northeast. NYSEG serves 854,000 electricity customers and 254,000 natural gas customers across more than 40% of upstate New York. RG&E serves 358,000 electricity customers and 295,000 natural gas customers in a nine-county region centered on the City of Rochester. By providing outstanding customer service, promoting competition and focusing on growth, NYSEG and RG&E will continue to be valuable assets to the communities they serve. For more information about NYSEG, visit nyseg.com. For more information about RG&E, visit rge.com.