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National Grid's proposed rate hike draws deep concern from watchdog group

Multiple utility boxes attached to the side of a house.
Daderot, Own Work
Wikimedia Commons
Multiple utility boxes attached to the side of a house.

A utility watchdog group is expressing deep concern about National Grid’s rate hike proposal. The plan is likely to impact Central New Yorke customers customers already struggling to pay their bills. 
The Public Utility Law Project, or PULP, closely monitors all rate hike requests. Executive Director and counsel Laurie Wheelock says low-income consumers are especially vulnerable

"Overall, when it comes to energy affordability, New Yorkers in general are struggling," Wheelock said. "So, as a state, it is really important to look at how are people doing and ultimately what are the avenues for trying to help people afford their energy bills.”

National Grid is proposing a 15 percent average annual increase for electricity service, and 20 percent for natural gas. Wheelock says as part of any rate hike request, PULP makes sure the utility is also offering additional assistance.

“One of our jobs is to roll up our sleeves to check these numbers," Wheelock said. "So, [we'll] look at the bill impacts and then try to push for greater consumer protection inside the rate case and then ultimately in the policy realm.”

Wheelock says a rate case presents a good opportunity to dig into the details of a company’s transparency and accountability.

“Obviously rates are being paid. Now, where are those funds going?" Wheelock said. "Have they been doing the proper capital projects and infrastructure work? And then ultimately, were those investments prudent?”

 Wheelock says they also check to see if a utility has applied for federal or state funds to offset the cost of infrastructure upgrades, which in turn, might reduce their rate increase request.

She encourages consumers to participate in public hearings and submit comments. The Department of Public Service will spend at least the next year reviewing the request.


National Grid says it’s looking to raise electricity delivery prices 15 percent and natural gas 20 percent by 2025…but predicts its proposal will be less daunting as it works its way through the system. The utility company filed its plan with the state regulators Tuesday. Communications Manager Jared Paventi says consumer costs have been stable for a long time.

“I would note that adjusted for inflation, your energy bills are actually lower than they were 16 years ago," Paventi said. "Residential electricity bills were about 20 percent higher in the late 2000’s, and natural gas prices are about 40 percent lower than they were back then.”

Paventi says company costs are sharply increasing and National Grid needs to improve its infrastructure. The Public Utility Law Project is concerned the increase will have a significant impact on many who can’t afford their current energy bills. Paventi advises people to let the process play out.

“It does feel like a band-aid ripping off but I would say that what is discussed today is likely not going to be the final result…it’s a proposal.”

The Public Service Commission will use the next 11 months to study the proposal and hold public hearings. It says in a statement that it will look for ways to reduce the request or possibly spread the increase over a few years.

Scott Willis covers politics, local government, transportation, and arts and culture for WAER. He came to Syracuse from Detroit in 2001, where he began his career in radio as an intern and freelance reporter. Scott is honored and privileged to bring the day’s news and in-depth feature reporting to WAER’s dedicated and generous listeners. You can find him on twitter @swillisWAER and email him at
Bob Beck, a veteran media professional, currently serves as a part-time editor/host at WAER Public Radio and an adjunct professor at Syracuse University. Beck retired as News Director at Wyoming Public Radio in 2022 after 34 years. During his time, Beck won 5 regional Edward R. Murrow awards and 5 Public Media Journalists Association awards for reporting. He also won 11 PMJA awards for the news and public affairs program Open Spaces. He was awarded the Wyoming School Bell award for education reporting and was part of two Emmy Award winning television productions. You can find him on X under the name @butterbob.