ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Metro Justice and the Rochester For Energy Democracy Coalition Partners held a public meeting Monday night to discuss what they call RG&E’s lack of transparency with customers.

News 8 has been reporting on consumers’ bills that they say are seemingly overpriced, miscorrected, and more.

The organizations say creating a public utility in RG&E’s place would help ease these costs.
The advocates also claim Rochester Mayor Malik Evans has been refusing to hold the energy company accountable, and that he refuses to acknowledge the idea of creating a public utility.

“We will work directly with Metro Justice to clear up any misinformation,” said RG&E in a statement, as they say are investing in the community, and are working to bring “affordable energy to Rochester residents.”

Mayor Evans said in a statement that they cannot independently fund something like this.
In the meantime, RG&E says they’re adding onto current staff, with hopes to clear billing issues.

“Your mayor, our mayor, has refused to even study taking over RG&E and turning it into a public utility that is affordable, that is accountable and responsive to ratepayers a utility that gives ‘you’ a say while day-to-day operations are managed by trained and qualified professionals,” Mohini Sharma, Organizing Director, Metro Justice said.

Metro Justice further claims that public utilities are “more affordable, reliable, renewable, and economically beneficial to their local communities.”

Full statement from RG&E:

We remain committed to meeting with Metro Justice on their concerns and are working on mutually agreeable logistics for a future meeting. We will stress, as we have repeatedly done, how RG&E following severe COVID impacts, is adding hundreds of new staff to the more than 800 workers in Rochester alone, combatting rising supply rates by providing millions of dollars in relief to customers impacted by increase in rates set by out of state energy suppliers, suspending late payment charges, and since 2019 invested over $11 million in economic development. We will work directly with Metro Justice to clear up any misinformation to ensure all residents have the facts on how RG&E is making significant improvements to customer service, investing in the community, creating jobs and providing safe, reliable, and affordable energy to Rochester residents.

Full statement from Rochester Mayor Malik Evans:

The team at the City of Rochester has heard and understands the interest of some community members to explore the creation of a public utility. The citizens of Rochester need relief from the erratic and skyrocketing costs of heat and electricity, and a public utility is one option that may address this challenge.

However, the City of Rochester cannot independently fund a $500,000 Public Utility Study that would involve a regional geographic area. Any conversations related to this matter must be held with multiple government agencies including towns, counties and New York State. As one of the poorest municipalities in the state, the City of Rochester alone should not be expected to shoulder these costs.

When a broader group convenes to discuss the creation of a public utility, leadership from the City of Rochester will be at that table. In the meantime, the City is not in a position to lead or finance this exploration alone.