After initially proposing large rate increases, New York State Electric & Gas Corp. and its sister company, Rochester Gas & Electric Corp., appear to be on track to win approval of smaller increases from state regulators.

The staff of the state Public Service Commission is working on a joint proposal with NYSEG and RG&E, and the sides believe they will reach agreement this week, according to commission spokesman James Denn.

At stake is how much residents and businesses pay for the delivery of electricity and natural gas. Delivery charges account for almost one-third of a customer's monthly bill. The majority of the bill -- supply costs and taxes -- are not part of these rate cases.

What has been striking about the cases is a lack of strong opposition, perhaps because the utilities haven't been granted rate increases since 1996. During that 14-year period, overall consumer prices have risen 39 percent.

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