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By Roberta Russell

Are you beset by rising Con Ed bills?

Con Ed is a monopoly monitored by the New York State Public Service Commission (PSC). The commissioners are appointed by the governor and are responsible for regulating New York State’s electric, gas, and steam utilities. Currently, commissioner Rory M. Christian is the chair and chief executive officer, appointed by Governor Hochul on September 30, 2021. If you submit a complaint, or even an inquiry, someone will get back to you within 24 hours—really. Just call 800-342-3355. They are there to protect your interests.

The PSC was established in New York State in 1907 to regulate the state’s growing public utilities industry. At the time, there was increasing concern about the monopolistic practices of private utility companies, which often resulted in poor service and high prices for consumers. The PSC was tasked with ensuring that these companies provided safe, reliable service at fair prices, protecting the public interest. Today, the PSC continues to play a crucial role in regulating New York’s utilities, and also in shaping the state’s energy policy.

According to the Con Ed website (ConEd.com), the demand meter records your energy consumption, measured in kilowatt hours. Your bill is rounded up to 15-minute intervals, measured in kilowatts, regardless of actual use time. The highest peak demand recorded for one 15-minute interval is what’s shown and billed on your statement.

If you turn on the light and turn it right off, you will pay for 15 minutes of use. If this happens for one minute or less, four times, spaced at least 15 minutes apart, you will be billed for one hour for only four minutes or less of use.

This rewarding method of charging is called “rounding.” It is also used by other billers. If you speak to a lawyer who charges $600 per hour, rounded to 20-minute increments, you will pay an astounding $600 for three one-minute consultations.

Within 24 hours of my inquiry I discovered that even though Con Ed’s rates for fuel charges are regulated by the PSC, delivery rates are not. This is an unregulated way of charging that apparently came into effect as part of the self-serving benefits of remote “smart” meter-reading. Smart meters are devices that are used by electric companies to measure electricity usage in homes and businesses. If you opt out of using the smart meter, Con Ed will add $10 per month for a meter-reading charge. This isn’t regulated either.

A charge is dollars spent—whether on electric use, padded delivery prices, or fines. If you believe that all charges should be regulated, let the PSC know. Perhaps a rebate is due?

Health concerns: While there is still a lot of debate about the potential dangers of radiation from modems, cell phones, and Con Ed smart meters, there is evidence that suggests long-term exposure to these types of radiation could have harmful effects on human health. More research is needed to fully understand the risks associated with these devices. Although smart meters are designed to be safe and use low levels of radiation, some people are concerned about the potential health risks.

One of the main concerns regarding radiation from smart meters is the potential risk of cancer. While the levels of radiation emitted by smart meters are much lower than those from cell phones and modems, some studies have suggested that even low-level exposure, long-term, could increase the risk of cancer. In one study, published in 2013 in the Journal of Environmental Health Perspectives, researchers found that exposure to low levels of radiation from smart meters increased the risk of cancer in rats. However, other studies have not found a clear link between smart meters and cancer.

Another consideration about radiation from smart meters is the potential risk of other health problems, such as headaches, sleep disturbance, and fatigue. Some people have reported experiencing these symptoms after the installation of the meters. However, it is unclear whether these symptoms are directly related to the radiation emitted by smart meters or to other factors. There is still a lot of research required in order to fully understand the effects of smart meters on human health.

It is important to take precautions that minimize exposure to radiation. If you feel you are experiencing an adverse effect from the measurable radiation given off by the smart meter, you might want to connect with others to learn about that danger.

Shutterstock photo. Text: Roberta Russell.

Roberta Russell is the founder of the World-Wide Calorie & Exercise Logging Group (www.permanentweightloss.org), and the author of Report on Permanent Weight Loss, RD Laing & Me: Lessons in Love, and Report on Effective Psychotherapy: Legislative Testimony.

www.robertarussell.com.

russellk100@gmail.com.

©Roberta Russell, April 22, 2023, NYC.

More Information on opting out of Smart Meters is available here

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