Councilmember Mary Lupien speaks out

Source Tocsin Magazine:

Councilmember Mary Lupien publicly criticized the connections between Councilman Bob Duffy, Congressman Joe Morelle, and County Executive Adam Bello with Avangrid. Lupien took to Twitter on July 3 to express her concerns, stating that Duffy serves on Avangrid’s board and two of Morelle’s children hold positions at Osseroff Assoc., which is RGE’s lobbying firm. She also questioned whether Bello would go against these individuals, suggesting the possibility of a ballot referendum but emphasizing the need for further study.

Lupien later clarified her tweet, stating that only one of Morelle’s children is a Vice President, while the other is Morelli from a different family.

The debate surrounding Avangrid’s subsidiary, Rochester Gas & Electric (RG&E), and the potential replacement with a public utility has sparked discussions among lawmakers and activists. WXXI reported on the public outcry from activists and residents regarding billing issues and inconsistent customer service. Metro Justice, an advocacy group, has called for the city to allocate $500,000 towards a study to determine the feasibility of severing ties with RG&E and establishing a public utility. They have also urged the Monroe County Legislature to allocate $1 million for the study.

Lupien’s tweets came weeks after Bello released a statement addressing the concerns with RG&E. While acknowledging the need for improvement in service, billing, and customer issues, Bello expressed his opposition to creating a public utility. He highlighted the complexity of the issue, citing potential implications for taxpayers, as well as the significant assets, maintenance obligations, and operational responsibilities associated with acquiring RG&E. Bello also emphasized the need for buy-in from all municipal governments in the current service area to implement any changes. Consequently, he deemed spending $1 million of county taxpayer dollars on a public utility study unwarranted.

To verify the accuracy of Lupien’s tweets, it is confirmed that Bob Duffy is indeed a member of Avangrid’s Board of Directors, as stated on the company’s website. The Board of Directors consists of fourteen members, eight of whom are independent directors. Their responsibilities include overseeing the company’s sustainable development strategy, addressing sustainability, social, environmental, and health & safety issues, and ensuring Avangrid’s commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) approved by the United States.

Regarding Congressman Joe Morelle, his son Nicholas Morelle holds the position of Vice President at Ostroff Associates, a firm that lists RG&E as one of its clients.

Given Bello’s connections with Bob Duffy and Joe Morelle, it raises the question of whether these relationships will influence his decision-making process.

Lupien’s tweets shed light on the connections between Avangrid and local officials, prompting discussions about the potential replacement of RG&E with a public utility. The accuracy of Lupien’s tweets has been verified, and it remains to be seen how Bello’s relationships with Duffy and Morelle will impact his stance on the matter.

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