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Utility rates rising but jobless rates falling

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RG&E, and sister utility NYSEG, have received permission from regulators to increase rates three times before 2013.

Utilities hike rates

New York State Electric & Gas and Rochester Gas & Electric have gotten the go-ahead from the state's Public Service Commission to raise rates. Starting September 25, rates will rise, with additional increases kicking in next year, and then again the following year. More about NYSEG's rates in the Buffalo News, and RG&E's rates in the Democrat and Chronicle.

At the same meeting, the Public Service Commission decided to pursue an investigation of personal spending billed to National Grid, according to the Post-Standard.

Jobless rates decline

The other big story this morning is the monthly jobless rate. It dropped in Syracuse, Buffalo, and Rochester, even though jobs remain elusive.

Student debt rising

The Times-Union has a profile of student debt. Financial aid expert Mark Kantrowitz says it's eclipsing credit card debt.

Kantrowitz said that while increasing student loan debt is not quite another real estate bubble, he said it's a slowly growing crisis that could have a lasting effect. He said many college graduates will still be paying off student loans when their own children go to college and large debt burdens will force many to push back life plans, like having children and buying a house. It might mean that their children will also have to pay more for college because their parents are unable to help.

Fracking and water

The Press & Sun-Bulletin has a couple of items about water quality in the wake of hydrofracking for natural gas. Dimmock, Pennsylvania, where methane gas has been detected in wells, could hook the affected families up to municipal water.

Water in the Susquehanna is being monitored by a commission
 in the Southern Tier. Plans for what will eventually be a 50-station network of testing sites were unveiled yesterday in Corning.

Paradigm shift in nursing

The Utica Observer-Dispatch details how nursing has changed over the years.

Today, nurses wear brightly colored scrubs, leave the bed baths to aides and make critical decisions on their own, working as partners with doctors who spend far less time on hospital floors, they said.

Nurses now attend to sicker patients, administer more difficult treatments, and rely on computer skills much more.

In brief

Syracuse is considering a high-tech solution to prevent trucks and busses from slamming into a low railroad bridge, in the Post-Standard.

The New York Times says IBM is investing in Africa, as it helps upgrade cell phone networks.

From the Times-Union, Governor David Paterson is sticking with his threat to cut state jobs at the end of the year.

California's strict emissions standards are on the ballot this fall. The initiative is getting support from out-of-state oil firms and two Tea Party funders. Details from the New York Times.

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