National Grid Bill Too High? Relief May Be In Sight

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If you're struggling to pay your utility bill, there may be some relief in sight.

The state Public Service Commission says it has authorized National Grid to provide its customers with a $32 million temporary credit to offset "an unprecedented increase" in electric supply costs.

The PSC says the surges, expected in February, would result in bill spikes for upstate residential and small business customers.

The PSC says electricity prices could increase by as much as 27 percent in February.

While all New Yorkers are facing higher-than-normal electric bills due to the unusually cold weather, electric supply increases for National Grid's upstate customers is expected to be much higher in February than any other area in the state, according to the PSC.

"I'm pleased to learn that National Grid is helping its customers avoid an estimated 27 percent increase in price by freezing its electric rates at January levels. Ratepayers, including small businesses, won't be forced to choose between being able to keep warm or pay their bill," said Senator Joseph Griffo (R. - 47th District).

The PSC says a typical residential customer could see their February utility bill rise by $12.75 to $29.74.

Small businesses could see their bills go up between $34.66 and $77.88, depending on the customer's location.

National Grid petitioned for authorization to modify its supply mechanism by introducing a one-time customer credit to keep total rates, which includes delivery plus commodity charges, to be billed in February at the same rates as those that were in effect in January.

"What we're not going to collect is what we expect will be the spike in cost of the actual electricity itself, the actual commodity," said National Grid spokeman Steve Brady.

"Presumably, we will wait until the weather is a little bit better and things have started to normalize for customers," Brady said.

The commission says it will also be reviewing the reasonableness of National Grid's hedging practices and retail rate mechanisms to avoid similar occurrences in the future.

The PSC says customers having difficulty paying their bills should contact their utility for payment assistance programs and deferred payment plan options.

While average residential bills for the other utilities have increased over the same time period, those increases are less than what is being experienced by National Grid customers, according to the PSC.

The commission says it was prompted to act because of "the unique aspect of what National Grid customers are experiencing in terms of higher-than-normal price increases."

The PSC says demand for electricity and natural gas, which is used to generate electricity and provide heat, has been unprecedented due to the extremely cold weather that has gripped large parts of the country.

Earlier this month, New York set a new winter record peak demand for electricity of 25,738 megawatts (MW), beating the previous record winter peak demand of 25,541 MW set on December 20, 2004, according to the New York Independent System Operator.

Thursday, October 23, 2014
, Watertown, NY

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