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    Con Edison plans to increase electric, gas and steam rates in order to pay for infrastructure upgrades.

    If approved by the Public Service Commission, the rate changes would go into effect January 1, 2014. The New York utility company, which services most of Westchester, wants to increase its service rates and charges for electricity by about $419.9 million (8 percent), gas by about $24.3 million (2.5 percent) and steam by about $10.2 million (2.3 percent).

    If approved, customer bills would increase by 3.7 percent for electric, 1.3 percent for gas and 1.6 percent for steam. Both the New York State Power Authority and Department of Public Service staff determined the rate increases should be substantially lower than Con Edison's request.

    Con Edison had planned to file the request in November of 2012, but the onset of Hurricane Sandy hindered progress. Con Edison filed the request January 25, 2013.

    "Based on our experience with Sandy, these new rate filings focus on the need for investments and preventative measures to further strengthen critical infrastructure designed to reduce the impact of future major storms on our customers," according to Craig S. Ivey, president of Con Edison.

    The $1 billion in planned structural improvements include installing flood walls for certain electric and steam equipment, and additionally switches and related smart grid technology to make the delivery system more flexible. It also includes raising critical equipment in light of higher potential flood levels, upgrading gas system equipment and reconfiguring certain networks to reduce the impact to customers most affected by certain storms.

    The rate increases would also pay for increasing pension and healthcare costs, cost of capital, depreciation costs, and operating expenses, according to the Public Service Commission.

    How does the increase affect Con Edison customers?

    Con Edison's rate increase would certainly take a toll on customers' wallets. For example, if a customer is paying $200 per month for their electricity and the rate increases by 3.7 percent (as proposed above) their monthly bill would increase about $8 a month. Now that may not seem too drastic But multiply $8 a month times 12 months. On average, if the rate increase is approved, customers will be paying an additional $96 a year for their electricity usage!

    Customers should always keep themselves informed on rising energy costs and be aware of ways to avoid them. Electricity suppliers are a great alternative and allow customers to lock in a supply rate at a price they approve. Typically the electricity provider's rate is significantly lower than the utility's rate. If interested in seeing electricity providers in your area, simply type in your ZIP Code at