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The Commission took the offer under consideration and on April 11, 1917, adopted an order accepting it and approving an opinion by Commissioner Travis H. Whitney in which the merits of the proposed reductions were considered. Commissioner Whitney pointed out that in view of the unsettled economic conditions, including increases in cost of production and distribution, which had recently taken place and were likely to continue, and taken in connection with increased labor costs, the effect which a reduction in the company's rates would make upon the company's revenue would be problematical. The time, he felt, was not yet arrived when the Commission would be justified in making a drastic order which might imperil the company's stability. He pointed out that within a short time the growth of the City would require the company to make large expenditures for extensions of facilities and service which would be promptly met, but which in themselves would not be remunerative. He also indicated that the acceptance of the proposal by the Commission did not bind the Commission against future proceedings and conclusions in respect of the company's rate schedule at a time when, in the judgment of the Commission, normal business conditions would be substantially restored.
The company subsequently put the new rates into effect and filed the necessary tariffs with the Commission in compliance with its regulations.
FORMAL CASES — GAS COMPANIES
Case No. 2241 - New York & Richmond Gas Company Extensions of Mains and Service to Residents of Grant City, New Dorp, etc., Staten Island. In August, 1917, the Commission received a complaint from Lewis E. Collings of Midland, Staten Island, in respect to the failure of the gas company, above named, to provide an extension of its mains and service to residents of Grant City, New Dorp, Midland Beach and New Dorp Beach, Staten Island. The complaint set forth that after considerable agitation on the part of local taxpayers' organizations, several months previous, the gas company had agreed to supply the communities named and to extend its mains to provide the service desired. Announcement was made to this effect and as a result many persons constructed new dwellings and otherwise made preparations to utilize the gas for domestic purposes. The company actually began the extensions, which required the laying of some twenty miles of trunk and lateral mains, opening trenches and laying some mains.
Before any considerable portion of the work was accomplished, however, a controversy arose between the company and the Department of Water Supply, Gas and Electricity of the City of New York over the payment of a so-called corporation inspector, assigned by the Department named, to inspect and report upon the progress of the work, the methods employed, etc. The company refused to pay the inspector assigned to the work and the Department of Water Supply refused to withdraw him, starting an injunction suit against the company. Thereupon the company halted all work on the extensions and removed its trenching apparatus.
No work was being done at the time the application was made to the Commission, which as a result of the complaint, on its own motion, directed that hearings be held and investigation made as to the situation. At the first hearing an official of the company testified that the work had been stopped because of the injunction brought by The City of New York, following the refusal of the company to pay the inspector and the cancellation of the permit issued by the Commissioner of Water Supply, Gas and Electricity authorizing the work in the streets. Testimony was also given by residents of the communities mentioned as to the actual need for gas service. It was shown in some cases that houses had been constructed as summer residences without chimneys in the expectation that gas would be supplied to use for cooking and, if necessary, heating. Building of other homes had been contemplated because of the promise of gas service but had stopped with the cessation of work in the streets, resulting in a considerable loss to many persons. The Commission gave consideration to the points presented in the testimony and Commissioners Travis H. Whitney and Charles S. Hervey also made a personal inspection of the local conditions in the section of Staten Island involved. As a result of their visit the Commission on December 5 adopted an order directing the gas company to construct an extension of its mains to Grant City and to New Dorp by May 1, 1918, the order being without prejudice to a later proceeding or order in respect io extensions of the mains and service of the company to Midland Beach and New Dorp Beach.
Case No. 2163- Queens Borough Gas & Electric Company Rates in Fifth Ward, Queens.- Late in 1916 the Commission began an investigation into the rates charged for electricity by the Queens Borough Gas & Electric Company, which operates in the Fifth Ward of Queens, serving the section commonly known as the Rockaways. The company also manufactures and sells gas, and its territory extends beyond the borders of the First District. The proceeding begun by the Commission covered only the question of the electric rates of the company within the First District and was started upon the Commission's own motion, following the filing of complaints by some of the company's consumers.
The company maintained a maximum rate of 13 cents per kw. hour, which, soon after the hearings were begun, it voluntarily agreed to reduce to 12 cents per kw. hour. A number of conferences were held with the complaining consumers and with the officials of the company at which the proposal to reduce the rates was discussed.
The rates of this company were once before under consideration by the Commission (Case Nos. 1224 and 1225), being the first cases brought before the Commission relating to rates charged for gas and electricity. In these earlier cases, the company, soon after the proceedings were begun, agreed to accept the determination of the Commission in advance of its decision, if the Commission would establishi maximum gas and electric rates for the company. The formal proceedings in these cases were thereupon suspended and informal investigation begun, as a result of which the Commission reached a decision on June 23, 1911, the company being directed by order to charge not more than $1.20 per thousand cubic feet for gas from July 1, 1911, to January 1, 1912. The company was further directed to reduce the gas rate 5 cents per thousand cubic feet under the abovementioned rate on January 1, 1912. That rate has since remained in effect. The Commission established 13 cents per kw. hour as a rate to be charged for electricity from July 1, 1911, to July 1, 1912, which rate, however, remained in effect; as stated above, at the time of the beginning of the new case. Several hearings were held and on January 31, 1917, Mr. Carlton Macy, President of the company, made a formal statement before the Commission, voluntarily agreeing to make a one-cent reduction in the maximum electric rate, effective as of March 10, 1917, without any conditions attached and expressing a desire to co-operate with the Commission toward a full investigation of the company's rates.
The hearing was adjourned on the call of the Commission and the reduction as promised was put into effect on the date agreed upon. Instructions were issued by the Commission to its statistical and electrical experts to make investigations into the operations and property of the company, with a view later to the resumption of the hearings and a formal investigation into the company's rates.
Case No. 1541 ---Flatbush Gas Company - Complaints of Samuel Evans Maires and Others as to Rates for Electricity.On the complaint of a large number of consumers, the Commission began a proceeding in 1912 to determine the fairness and propriety of the rate charged for electricity by the Flatbush Gas Company, which serves residents of the 29th Ward, comprising the former village of Flatbush, now embraced within the confines of the Borough of Brooklyn. The maximum rate complained of was 12 cents per kw. hour. Hearings continued during 1912 and 1913, being closed on October 15 of the latter year.
Briefs were filed later by the company, but the Commission withheld its decision, pending the completion of the appraisal and the rendering of a decision in the rate case of the Edison Electric Illuminating Company of Brooklyn. The latter case was completed in 1916, a substantial reduction in rates being effected and the hearing in the Flatbush Gas Company case reopened. A preliminary hearing was held at which time it was decided to adjourn to January 4, 1917, when reports covering the operation of the company for the years intervening between 1913 and 1916 and including the latter year would be put in evidence. A great deal of testimony relating to the property and the operations of the company was produced, hearings continuing until July 23, 1917, at which time they were closed with a suitable interval allowed for the submission of briefs.
The following is a list of actions and proceedings brought or continued during the year 1917 by or against the Public Service Commission for the First District, or its members or appointees :
ACTIONS AND PROCEEDINGS UNDER THE REGULATORY POWERS OF
Actions to Enjoin Enforcement of Acts of the Legislature
(Rate-fixing Statutes) (1) Kings County Lighting Company v. Woodbury et al.
(2) Brooklyn Borough Gas Company v. Public Service Commission et al.
Actions to Enjoin Enforcement of Orders of the Commission
(3) Nassau Electric Railroad Company V. Public Service Commission.
(4) Coney Island and Brooklyn Railroad Company v. Public Service Commission.
(5) Brooklyn Heights Railroad Company v. Public Service Commission. .
(6) Brooklyn, Queens County and Suburban Railroad Company v. Public Service Commission.
Proceedings to Review Orders of the Commission (7) People ex rel. Brooklyn Heights Railroad Company v. Public Service Commission