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Some of the Things You’ll Be Paying More For

Jun 17, 2023Jun 17, 2023

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Gas and electric bills are going up, and so are bridge and tunnel tolls, not to mention subway fares.

By James Barron

Good morning. It’s Friday. Today we’ll look at why your electric and gas bill went up if you are a Con Edison customer, and why tolls for some bridges and tunnels will go up starting Sunday. We’ll also look at two investigations of people who are, or were, close to Mayor Eric Adams.

Roger Aguinaldo was not surprised when he heard about the Con Edison rate increase that took effect on Tuesday.

“What are you going to do, yell at the kids to turn the lights off?” said Aguinaldo, who lives in Rego Park, Queens. “But wait, the lights are LEDs, so they don’t consume that much electricity anyway.”

The state Public Service Commission said that as of Aug. 1, a residential customer’s Con Edison bill would jump $14.44 a month, or 9.1 percent, for 600 kilowatt-hours of electricity. The same customer’s bill will go up again in January by $7.20 a month, or 4.2 percent, and by a further $2.43 a month, or 3.8 percent, in January 2025, assuming he or she uses 600 kilowatt-hours.

Con Edison’s rates for natural gas also went up at the beginning of the month, by an average of 8.4 percent, or $17.28 a month. Like Con Edison’s electric customers, gas users will see their rates jump again in January 2024 (by 6.7 percent a month, or an average of $14.90) and in January 2025 (by 6.6 percent a month, or an average of $15.61).

But a Con Edison spokesman said that low-income customers who signed up for affordability programs that provide discounts would see their bills decrease by $2.99 a month for electricity and $2.11 for natural gas.

As part of the rate case, Con Edison is promising investments in clean energy as it moves away from fossil fuels. Among other things, it plans to upgrade its service to accommodate increased demand from electric heating and electric vehicles.

“Electric vehicles could put a lot of additional load on the electric grid,” said Paul DeCotis, a former chairman of the New York State Energy Planning Board who is now a senior partner of the digital consulting firm West Monroe. “Say the M.T.A. converted its bus fleet to electricity,” DeCotis said, referring to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. “That’s a lot more electricity that Con Edison is going to have to deliver.”

By coincidence, two days after the Public Service Commission approved the higher utility rates, the M.T.A. approved a plan to build an electric bus-charging station next to its Gun Hill Road Bus Depot in the Bronx.

Starting Sunday, it will cost more to drive across the bridges or through the tunnels run by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority — 39 cents more for cars with E-ZPasses at six major crossings. The new E-Z Pass rate will be $6.94, up from $6.55, at the Bronx-Whitestone, Robert F. Kennedy, Throgs Neck and Verrazzano-Narrows Bridges and the Queens Midtown and Hugh L. Carey Tunnels.

In percentage terms, that is slightly more than the increase in subway fares scheduled for later in the month. The price of a subway ride will climb to $2.90, from $2.75, on Aug. 20.

The price rise is steeper for drivers who do not have E-ZPasses and are charged by mail — $11.19 starting Sunday, up from $10.17 now. The agency said that drivers with E-ZPasses issued in New York would save 2 percent more than before, compared with customers who are billed by mail.

When the M.T.A. approved the higher tolls and fares, its chairman, Janno Lieber, described them as a return to every-other-year increases that would match inflation. The agency had been facing a budget gap of nearly $3 billion by 2025. A bailout from Gov. Kathy Hochul and the State Legislature bolstered the balance sheet, but not enough to avoid the increases, and the agency is counting on more. It foresees 4 percent increases in 2025 and 2027.

Gasoline prices are up, too, though not much. AAA said the average price of a gallon of regular in New York City was $3.912 on Thursday, up slightly more than a penny from Wednesday and slightly more than two cents above the statewide average of $3.888 a gallon.

The current price in the city is 9 cents more than the week-ago average, but it’s 22 cents less than the comparable figure from a month ago — and nearly 61 cents below the price at this time last year.

Weather

Prepare for a chance of showers, persisting through the evening, with temperatures near 80. At night, temps will drop to around the high 60s.

ALTERNATE-SIDE PARKING

In effect until Aug. 15 (Feast of the Assumption).

Sentenced: Edward Mullins, the ex-leader of the New York City sergeants’ union who pleaded guilty to stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from its members, was sentenced to two years in federal prison.

Charged: A chemistry professorlured at least three women to the Bronx from El Salvador, promising them a better life. Instead, federal prosecutors said, he raped, sexually assaulted and sexually abused them.

The future of streetside sheds: Outdoor dining along New York City streets is set to become permanent — in a way that could prompt many restaurant owners to take down their streetside sheds.

Covid cases: A small uptick in Covid cases has led to more hospitalizations, but the numbers, about 800 statewide, are still far below previous waves.

One case involves Mayor Eric Adams’s former buildings commissioner, a real estate developer and a discounted apartment.

The other involves six people, including a former police inspector who is longtime friend of Adams. They are accused of recruiting and reimbursing donors to get more money for Adams’s campaign under the city’s campaign finance program.

My colleagues Jonah E. Bromwich and William K. Rashbaum write that the two cases have brought the Manhattan district attorney, Alvin Bragg, uncomfortably close to the mayor, who has not been implicated in any wrongdoing. But — not for the first time since — Adams finds himself in the awkward position of having to explain himself or account for associates.

The first case involves Eric Ulrich, who resigned as buildings commissioner last year. He has been charged in a sealed indictment with corruption-related crimes, according to two people familiar with the investigation who asked for anonymity to discuss charges that have not been made public. (Bragg is expected to announce the indictment next month.)

Ulrich is accused of accepting a discounted apartment from Mark Caller, a Brooklyn-based developer who has had business with the city and who is also charged in the indictment, the people familiar with the investigation said.

A lawyer for Ulrich, Samuel Braverman, said last month that until he saw an indictment, he would not comment. He said on Thursday that he had nothing to add. Caller’s lawyer, Benjamin Brafman, said that he had not seen the indictment but called the allegation about a marked-down apartment “patently false.”

Ulrich told investigators that months before he resigned, the mayor had warned him that he was the focus of a criminal investigation, the two people said. Ulrich’s account was first reported by The Daily News. Adams has denied giving Ulrich such a warning.

In the other case, which Bragg announced last month, the lead defendant is Dwayne Montgomery, a retired police inspector who was a colleague when Adams was on the force. Court papers say that Montgomery and Rachel Atcheson, an Adams aide, arranged fund-raisers at which straw donors gave Adams’s campaign $250 apiece.

The city has a matching funds program intended to reward small donations. For every personal contribution of $250 to a mayoral campaign, the city gives the campaign $2,000.

METROPOLITAN diary

Dear Diary:

On a sweltering Saturday in summer 1995, I was 25, hung over and waiting for the No. 1 train at 116th Street with a friend. We were on our way to Penn Station to pick up another friend.

When the train arrived, I stepped inside and stopped immediately so that I could lean against the door when it closed. A few moments later, I felt a sharp jab to my ribs and heard a stern, “Step aside!”

I apologized sheepishly.

The elbow jabber turned and looked at me. She was a petite woman about my age, and something happened when our eyes met.

“You’re not from around here, are you?” she said.

“No,” I said, feeling myself blush. “I just moved here from upstate.”

“You apologized,” she said, smiling. “That’s how I knew.”

“I just finished a parks restoration job upstate,” she continued. “Where did you live?”

By the time we got to Penn Station, I had her phone number and we had arranged to meet with a group of her friends and mine at an East Village bar that night.

We talked until 4 a.m., then went for falafels at Mamoun’s on St. Marks until the sun came up. June 27 was our 25th wedding anniversary.

— John Diefendorf

Illustrated by Agnes Lee. Send submissions here and read more Metropolitan Diary here.

Glad we could get together here. See you on Monday. — J.B.

P.S. Here’s today’s Mini Crossword and Spelling Bee. You can find all our puzzles here.

Melissa Guerrero and Ed Shanahan contributed to New York Today. You can reach the team at [email protected].

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James Barron is a Metro reporter and columnist who writes the New York Today newsletter. In 2020 and 2021, he wrote the Coronavirus Update column, part of coverage that won a Pulitzer Prize for public service. He is the author of two books and was the editor of “The New York Times Book of New York.” More about James Barron

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SentencedChargedThe future of streetside shedsCovid casesGlad we could get together here. See you on Monday. — J.B.