It's been four months since the state Public Service Commission moved to curb overly aggressive sales practices by so-called energy service companies.

While the measures were badly needed, the commission fell short of fully protecting utility customers. Consumers are still at risk of being suckered into paying exorbitant prices for electricity and natural gas.

The commission needs to go back and enact more safeguards.

At the very least, it should require the companies to provide more transparent information about what they charge. And it should allow customers a reasonable time to review their first bills and cancel service if they want, without paying early termination fees.

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Staff from the state Public Service Commission will be filing a motion today to dismiss a request for rate hikes by New York State Electric & Gas, officials said.

NYSEG, an Energy East Corp. subsidiary, filed a request on Jan. 27 that would call for an increase in electricity bills of about $8.80 per month, a 9.9 percent increase. It also seeks an increase in residential natural-gas bills of $12.20 per month or 8.8 percent, according to a company media release. A related company, Rochester Electric & Gas, is also seeking a hike.

The requests come about four months after Energy East was acquired by Spanish energy company Iberdrola, which agreed to delay any rate increases during a 13-month period unless safety and reliability were at risk without one.

Company spokesman Matt Maguire said that due to the global recession and credit crisis, the utilities are in a financial crisis.

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ALBANY — In the course of a year or so, the state will take more than $750 million from the New York Power Authority to help the Paterson administration balance the state’s deficit-ridden general fund.

Power Authority officials say the lost money will not affect operations and that they are happy to help the state during these troubled times.

But critics say the move comes at a terrible time, given the condition of the economy. The authority, the nation’s largest state-owned power company, could have used some of the money to lower electricity rates, especially for struggling upstate companies that have decried the cost of power in New York as a competition killer, these critics say.

“Essentially, they’re using surplus NYPA funds from selling our hydropower on the open market to fund pork-barrel spending in Albany. It’s outrageous,” said Assemblyman James Hayes, R-Amherst, the ranking Republican on the Assembly Ways and Means Committee. He voted against last week’s deficit-reduction package.

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LOU DOBBS on Industrial Wind Projects

PILGRIM: There are lots of reasons for our economy and environment to invest in wind and solar energy but wind and solar are capital-intensive industry, not labor intensive. So job creation would be expensive.

According to the Center for American Progress, it would take $50,000 of taxpayer money to create every green job, a government subsidized job in an industry already heavily subsidized. The house stimulus proposal of $18 billion would be ten times the current government funding for renewable energy. The senate plan of $14 billion is seven times higher. And neither plan would spend the money quickly.

REP. DARRELL ISSA (R), CALIFORNIA: Whether you're talking 14 or 18, you only have about 2 that could possibly be properly spent in the first two years. These projects are taking ten-plus years to get off the ground because even those who say they're environmentalists don't want them in their backyard.

PILGRIM: And the Congressional Budge Office says the new funding would not be stimulative. "We therefore expect that the proportion of spending that would occur in the first few years would be lower than for the existing programs, reflecting the time it would take doe to establish new programs." Some say the heavily subsidized renewable energy industry does not deserve even more money.

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