Long Islanders weigh in on proposed National Grid rate hike

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HEMPSTEAD -

Long Islanders will have a chance Wednesday to weigh in on a proposed rate hike with National Grid.

National Grid customers could see a hike of around $6.50 a month in the delivery rate for natural gas, if given the green light from state regulators.

The Public Service Commission held a meeting in Mineola Wednesday during which National Grid said the extra money would go toward improvements to its aging infrastructure.

"This gives us the ability to go in and do things like leak repair, invest in the current transmission system and rebuild and harden the system," said Keith Rooney.

Some community activists say any hike could be painful, especially for those living on a fixed income.

In response to the potentially higher natural gas bills, the Town of Hempstead is proposing a unique solution that it says could possibly reduce residents' bills.

Town Supervisor Laura Gillen is proposing legislation that would allow the town to negotiate better gas rates with another company for all of its residents. The savings could possibly be 10% per month, with National Grid still delivering the gas. Gillen says the savings could offset the possible delivery rate hike.

The Public Service Commission is holding another meeting Thursday in Riverhead.

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