Watt Shock! Electric Rates UP 136% in Month. Con Ed Blames Natural Gas Prices, Cold Weather. Will Work With You They Say

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WPCNR THE POWER NEWS. February 10, 2014:

Local Con Edison customers got a rude shock Saturday when Con Edison electric bills arrived.

The charge per kilowatt hour went from 8.1 cents in December to 19.1 cents in January.

The explanation from Con Edison’s Elizabeth Matthews to WPCNR: the high cost of gas and cold weather. Delivery charges per kilowatt hour went down half a cent per kwh.

Ms. Matthews told WPCNR: “We are willing to work with customers (on spreading out  their bills over the course of a year)”:

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration,

“Natural gas supply into New York City remained constrained during colder-than-normal temperatures as evidenced by the price spikes in mid-December and early January. Spot natural gas prices reached as high as $47.80/MMBtu, higher than in New England—likely because New England was able to meet part of its natural gas demand with imported supplies of liquefied natural gas (LNG) and Canadian offshore natural gas production. Power prices hit $233.59/MWh on January 8.

Several major natural gas pipeline projects came in service ahead of the 2013-14 winter, including theNew Jersey to New York expansion of the Texas Eastern Transmission and the Algonquin Gas Transmission pipelines, which will deliver additional natural gas supplies, particularly from the Marcellus region, into the New York City area, the main demand center of the New York electric system. Despite these developments, natural gas supply into the New York region remains constrained during high demand periods.

An additional strain on the New York system came from the unplanned outage of Entergy’s Indian Point Unit 3 nuclear reactor located near New York City, which went offline on the evening of Monday, January 6. The loss of the 1,044-megawatt (MW) capacity baseload unit required additional higher-cost generators to be brought on line, which put further pressure on power prices.”  (Editor’s Note: Unit 3 was returned to service on January 8, according to the Entergy website.)”

According to a news release on the Con Edison website released January 29:

Con Edison is reminding customers that they can spread their energy costs out over 12 months to ease the impact of gas and electric supply prices, which shot higher in January due to the extreme cold weather.

The company also urges customers to take simple energy-saving steps to reduce their bills while staying comfortable.

Natural gas costs climbed in January, as the region has experienced colder-than-anticipated weather. The high gas prices are also driving up the cost of electricity, since gas is the fuel used in the generation of most electricity in New York.

Con Edison does not control the price of natural gas or electricity and makes no profit on either commodity. The company uses a variety of buying strategies to get the best price possible and then provides the energy to customers at cost.

Con Edison offers level-payment plans and other options to help customers manage their bills. For more information, go here: http://www.coned.com/customercentral/managemybill.asp

Under the level-payment plan, Con Edison will estimate the customer’s energy usage for a 12-month period and then spread those costs out over 12 months. After 12 months, the company will reconcile the estimates with the customer’s actual energy usage.

Con Edison estimates that a typical residential gas heating customer using 215 therms will have a February 2014 bill of about $388, which is $55, or 16.5 percent, higher than the February 2013 bill. Actual bills could be higher, depending on a customer’s usage.

The rise in gas prices is affecting the electric charges for customers who receive their bills in late January and early February.

A typical New York City residential customer who receives an electric bill this week for 300 kilowatt hours of usage will pay about $118, an increase of $21, or 21.6 percent, over the bill for the same period last year. Con Edison projects that bills sent in early February will include similar increases.

For a Westchester customer using 450 kilowatt hours, that late January bill is about $151, an increase of $27, or 21.8 percent, over last year. 

(Editor’s note: Where WPCNR is located, we used 718 KWH at 19.1 cents a kwh for a supply charge of $137.15  as opposed to $53.75 in December.)

Residential customers can save up to $1,000 and cut heating costs up to 30 percent with Con Edison Green Team rebates. The rebates encourage customers to do simple things like replace older equipment with efficient technology and seal leaks in their home heating systems. For energy tips and information on our Green Team programs visit: www.coned.com/greenteamor call 1-877-870-6118.

Customers also can save money with these tips:

  • Set your thermostat at 68 degrees during the day and 60 degrees at night and when no one is home. Each degree over 68 can increase by 3 percent the amount of energy you use for heating.
  • Install a programmable thermostat and set it to lower the heat at night and when no one is home.
  • Inspect ducts to ensure adequate air flow and eliminate loss of heated air.
  • Keep drapes and furniture away from radiators and baseboard heaters so heat can flow freely.


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