Rochester, New York – Thousands of Rochester residents were stunned last spring when they received their monthly gas and electricity bills, which on some occasions were hundreds of dollars higher than usual for that period of the year. Even though the prices of gas and electricity had increased recently, the bills were nowhere near what Rochester residents were expecting to pay just when gas prices were soaring and almost everyone was already feeling the pressure from the rising prices and inflation.
While residents were seeking answers to acknowledge what has happened, RG&E issued a statement about the whole situation, explaining that two main factors contributed to significantly higher monthly bills: higher supply prices in recent months and delayed bills as a result of meter reading issues caused by the pandemic. Obviously, that was a response that no one wanted to hear.
Higher bills are not a problem only for Rochester residents. Gas and electric bills have been continuously increasing across the United States in recent months, and the cost of energy is a big concern for many families, who may have to choose between paying their bills and buying food. The price of gas and electricity has increased dramatically over the past few years, which is why many people are now looking for ways to lower their energy costs, a trend that is expected to continue in the upcoming period.
Using energy-efficient appliances, a programmable automatic thermostat, energy-efficient lighting, unplugging electronics when not in use, and keeping your home cooler in the winter and warmer during the summer months are some of the most common steps people take to save on gas and electricity globally.
Instead of fixing the issues with the bills, RG&E continued with the billing errors for an extended period of time. Rising gas and electricity costs in recent years were another major factor that led RG&E to be in an uncomfortable position despite being the major gas and electricity provider in the Rochester area, covering 700,000 electricity and natural gas customers in Monroe, Wayne, Genesee, Orleans, Wyoming, Allegany, Livingston, Cayuga, and Ontario counties.
In late October, City Councilmember Mary Lupien and Metro Justice members held a town hall meeting to discuss the possibility of a public takeover of RG&E after the utility company proposed a 13-22% rate increase. The company said it wanted to raise rates so it could invest in infrastructure, but people at the town hall meeting said the company officials were to blame for their very expensive bills and mistakes in billing.
Now, community members have confirmed that a second town hall meeting is set to take place early next week. The event will take place on Monday, Dec. 19, at the Gleason Auditorium of the Rochester Public Library from 6-8 p.m. The topic is the public takeover of RG&E.
The organizers believe that more people will attend the second town hall meeting and that more people will support the idea of a public takeover of RG&E. In addition, organizers confirmed that all of the Rochester City Council members will be in attendance this time. Replacing RG&E with a community-owned utility is expected to bring much lower gas and electricity bills for current RG&E, as this model has already proven to be effective in several other counties in the area where residents receive high-quality service while paying less.