THE COUNTY EXECUTIVE’S CORNER: “We’re Getting Hosed”

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BY ROCKLAND COUNTY EXECUTIVE ED DAY  Ed Day

Rockland County is being asked to pay millions for a water desalination plant that will never be built.

The Public Service commission, which is supposed to be the watchdog for consumers, stood by and did nothing as Suez, our water company, spent $54 million on a plant that was never built.

Now Suez wants Rockland ratepayers to pay for $39.7 million in costs associated with this phantom plant.

In short, Rockland ratepayers are being hosed.

That is why the County of Rockland on behalf of all ratepayers has filed suit against the Public Service Commission of New York, the New York State Department of Public Service and Suez New York.

The Public Service Commission was supposed to be the watchdog for the consumer, making sure that the water company acted responsibly.

Suez did not act responsibly. The costs they are looking to have us pay are not just and reasonable. The Public Service Commission did not act responsibly either.

Now Suez is asking the Public Service Commission to approve a rate hike that could approach 18.7 percent. That would translate into a water bill increase of $100 a year for a residential property owner.

Rockland residents should not be left holding the bag for an ill-advised and poorly managed project – especially one that was ultimately shown to be unnecessary.

We don’t even know what we are being asked to pay for.

At a hearing asking the PSC for a surcharge, United Water, the precursor to Suez, submitted 9,532 pages of copies of schedules and heavily redacted invoices for legal and other expenses related to the proposed Haverstraw desalination plant.

The Department of Public Service did not verify these expenses. The department merely performed a sample audit of the invoices.

We think that the Department of Public Service violated its statutory responsibility by performing the limited or sample audit of the invoices of these expenditures or charges for consultants.

We also maintain that Suez violated its statutory responsibilities for imposing unjust or unreasonable charges on ratepayers for its water service.

Ratepayers should not be responsible for these charges.

If the Public Service commission believes that Suez deserves reimbursement for the massive costs it ran up studying the feasibility of a desalination plant that was deemed, after eight years, to be unnecessary, let them go to Albany and ask the state to reimburse them.

It was the malfeasance of a State agency that allowed millions of dollars to be spent without oversight or accountability. The Rockland ratepayer trusted the process. They should not shoulder the costs of the outright failure of the Public Service commission and Department of Public Service.

Don’t go sticking your hands deeper in the pockets of the Rockland ratepayer.

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