City Council Votes to Keep a Public Utility Study in the Budget; the Fight for a Fully Funded, City-led Study Continues - Metro Justice

City Council Votes to Keep a Public Utility Study in the Budget; the Fight for a Fully Funded, City-led Study Continues

In a win for Rochester’s public power movement, Rochester City Council voted Tuesday night to keep $500,000 in the City budget to lower energy bills for Rochester residents. The flexibility of the resolution allows these funds to be used for a city-led study on replacing RG&E with a public utility. Unlike last year’s resolution, this year’s resolution does not require Monroe County or New York State to lead the study in order for the City to release these funds. 

“City Council’s resolution leaves the door open to a public utility study being commissioned at the city-level, which is a step forward in our movement for a locally owned, affordable, and reliable public utility run by local union workers. Now we need to continue building grassroots pressure to ensure that the City Council uses these funds to live up to the public’s demand for a public utility study,” explained Metro Justice’s Organizing Director, Mohini Sharma. 

“City residents are the hardest hit by RG&E’s crushing rates and erratic misbilling that so often spiral families into crisis. We hope our City’s elected leadership works diligently to acquire full funding for a study and stands up for our city’s residents after Monroe County failed to do so,” said Dan Maloney, President of United Auto Workers Local 1097. 

In the coming months, the RED Campaign intends to work with Mayor Malik Evans, City Administration, City Council, and local New York State representatives, to fully fund a comprehensive public utility study that is commissioned by the city of Rochester. 

BACKGROUND: RG&E is owned by a multinational corporation, Iberdrola, the second largest energy utility company in the world. RG&E continues to fail the greater Rochester community, this year not meeting any of their four customer service metrics.[1] Rochester for Energy Democracy (RED) is a grassroots campaign to replace RG&E’s foreign corporate ownership with a public, not-for-profit, community-controlled, unionized energy utility in Monroe County. The campaign is led by Metro Justice, a Rochester-based social and economic justice organization founded in 1965, with the support of a diverse coalition of local labor, faith, and community organizations, as well as thousands of local residents. 

The first step is a feasibility study to assess the technical, financial, and legal aspects of replacing RG&E. The study will provide a plan of service including governance and management, evaluate a fair price for the grid, create an affordable rate structure, and provide a cost-effective plan for grid resiliency and a green transition. The vast majority of public utility studies are funded and initiated at the city-level, even if the study covers a larger region like Monroe County. Recent studies in San Diego, Decorah, Pueblo, Long Island, Maine, and Winter Park all found that taking over their privately owned utilities would result in significant cost savings for residents, even after they paid for the cost of purchasing the grid from the private utility.

[1] Public Service Commission 


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  • Michelle Wenderlich
    published this page in What's new? 2024-06-20 17:49:36 -0400

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