Con Ed came before a State Assembly committee to explain the rate hike. Officials argued Wednesday the system is strapped and that massive projects like the Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn will burden the system even more.
They say the rate hike would cover improvements to handle energy needs, some of which have already been made, but have not been fully paid for by customers.
AM NY added more context:
Con Ed officials say increased development will push energy usage in most of New York City beyond capacity by 2011, unless certain infrastructure projects such as five new substations are completed.
Now that doesn't mean that the utility wouldn't have the capacity to handle Atlantic Yards; it just means that the project is cited as a justification for increased expenditures and costs.
However, the Atlantic Yards Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) focused on the whether the project would adversely impact the infrastructure, not adversely impact electricity bills.
From Chapter 24 (Response to Comments):
Comment 11-1: The project should address the huge additional demands on public infrastructure. These must include initial and ongoing costs to be borne by the City and impact on these services in the surrounding neighborhoods. The proposed project will have an adverse impact on the already strained electricity grid, water supply, and sewer systems serving the site.
Response 11-1: As discussed in greater detail below and also explained in detail in the DEIS and this FEIS, increased demands on electricity, water, and sewage services as a result of the proposed development would not be significant and can be accommodated largely through existing infrastructure systems with local improvements in sewer pipes, water mains, electrical and gas lines, and the proposed project’s stormwater management techniques.... Finally, the DEIS discusses the proposed localized upgrades in electrical and gas lines serving the project site, as well as improvements proposed by Con Edison that would improve service not only to the project site, but Brooklyn as a whole. Energy saving devices that would be incorporated into the project are also described.
At full build out these increases in demand on infrastructure systems are as follows: ...an insignificant increase in the amount of electricity that is consumed in New York City each day (less than 0.1 percent).
Can Con Ed handle it?
Other commenters questioned whether the utility was ready:
Comment 11-9: Con Edison is already providing maximum output and peak load conditions. It has not been demonstrated that Con Edison will be able to address the projected increased demand for energy and that there is enough capacity in the City’s energy system to meet the projected demands. Con Edison has only superficially upgraded the Greater Downtown Brooklyn grid in spite of greater usage of electronics by an increasingly more affluent population. No supporting statistics, analysis, or engineering calculations are provided to substantiate the claim that the increased demands for electricity and gas as a result of the proposed project would be insignificant. The conclusion of insignificant impacts is contradictory to the findings of a 2004 report prepared by the NYC Energy Policy Task Force, which identifies load growth as the greatest single challenge to the City’s energy infrastructure. What is Con Edison’s evaluation of the project sponsor’s energy plans relative to their current and projected demand for providing energy to the area?
Response 11-9: The project sponsors have met with Consolidated Edison and KeySpan to review project plans and ensure that the utilities can provide service to the project. As discussed in the DEIS, increased demands on electric and gas service as a result of the proposed development would be insignificant compared with overall energy consumption within the City (the proposed project would add less than 0.1 percent to this demand). Natural gas connections are available locally. Based on those discussions with these utilities, the proposed project would include local upgrades in electric and gas lines serving the project site. Consolidated Edison also has additional improvements in the future without the proposed project that are being implemented to improve service to Downtown Brooklyn (including the project site) and the Borough as a whole.