National Grid, the British utility company that serves much of upstate New York, is seeking permission to increase rates by $370 million a year in order to upgrade substations that date back to the 1920s and 1930s. The state's 80-year-old electrical infrastructure is long past its intended lifespan, officials say, and some crucial components are literally rotting away. "The obsolete equipment was not designed to handle today's electrical load," National Grid President Tom King told the state Senate last week. "The result: reduced reliability, and in some cases power failure."

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