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Climate coalition eyes utilities' rate case 

Rochester Gas and Electric and NYSEG want state regulators to let them raise their gas and electric rates. They need the additional revenue, they say, to cover things such as infrastructure investments, increases in operational costs, energy efficiency program costs, and the rollout of smart meters.

But the Rochester People's Climate Coalition sees the rate case as an opportunity for the regulatory commission to encourage what they call "beneficial electrification." The utilities should spend less on natural gas infrastructure, they say, and more on incentives that allow people to replace natural gas appliances with high-efficiency electric alternatives.

If the commission grants the utilities' requests, the average RG&E electric bill would increase 3 percent, the average RG&E gas bill by 2.2 percent, the average NYSEG electric bill by 13.6 percent, and the average NYSEG gas bill by 1 percent, says the utilities' filing.

A statement from the utilities notes that the proposal includes investments in four energy storage projects, which will help with renewables growth, and in EV chargers.

The activists say their push lines up with the state's new climate laws, which set targets for clean energy development and carbon emissions cuts. They include an 85 percent reduction in carbon emissions across all economic sectors of the state by 2050.

To address climate change and hit the law's targets, "we need to change our energy grid, our energy infrastructure," says Kristen Van Hooreweghe, the coalition's project manager for the rate case.

The climate coalition is urging the public to attend the Public Service Commission's August 6 information and comment sessions at Rochester City Hall, 30 Church Street. The first session starts at 1:30 p.m., the second at 6. An ASL interpreter will be present.

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