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Letter: Electric bills already too high

The Long Island Power Authority is challenging PSEG

The Long Island Power Authority is challenging PSEG Long Island's claims that state recommendations to reduce PSEG's requested rate hike violate the New Jersey-based utility's contract and the LIPA Reform Act. Credit: Newsday / John Paraskevas

On Monday, we will hear state regulators' recommendation on how high to raise Long Island's electric rates over the next three years.

AARP applauds the state Department of Public Service for urging that PSEG Long Island's original proposal for a historically high $441 million increase be reduced.

But that would still leave Long Islanders to pay more than $300 million more. That should be the starting point of a discussion with the Long Island Power Authority, not the end.

Long Islanders already face the third-highest residential electric costs in the continental United States. In 2014, about 16,000 households on Long Island were cut off for nonpayment, most temporarily. And nearly half of Long Islanders older than 50 interviewed in a 2014 AARP survey said they were "extremely" or "very" concerned about being able to pay their utility bills in the coming years.

We're also pleased the Department of Public Service recommended freezing the basic usage charge, which PSEG proposed doubling. That would particularly hurt low energy users, including many older residents on fixed or limited incomes.

LIPA has the final say on the PSEG proposal, and AARP urges the authority to employ every effort to further reduce the hike.

Bernard Macias, Merrick

Editor's note: The writer is the associate state director of AARP for Long Island.