Company takes measures to reduce volatility seen last winter
Although the fall season is just underway across upstate New York, many already are looking to forecasts for the coming winter. On the energy front, National Grid's electricity customers are projected to see bills that are 3 percent to 9 percent lower than last winter (November through March), depending on where they live.
These forecasted lower electricity costs for residential and small commercial customers assume normal winter weather and typical usage. The decrease is in part due to additional steps the company has taken to further hedge - or lock in - electricity supply prices to reduce monthly volatility in customer bills. National Grid also has asked the New York Public Service Commission to approve a mechanism that would allow more flexibility in how the company recovers supply costs that turn out to be significantly higher than those forecasted for residential and small commercial customers. If the request is approved, National Grid would collect the higher wholesale prices over a number of months, instead of in a single month, to reduce customer impact.
While these steps should help reduce the dramatic swings on the supply portion of bills many experienced last winter, the company cautioned that severe cold could affect both the market price for supply and the amount of energy a customer uses. On average, residential customers use 30 percent more electricity from November through March than they do in the fall and spring months.
A customer's total bill consists of two components: energy supply and energy delivery. National Grid's costs are reflected in the energy delivery portion of the bill, and cover the cost to operate and maintain the systems that delivers energy to customers, including providing emergency services and storm restoration. Delivery prices are regulated by the New York Public Service Commission, and are lower today than they were just a few years ago.
When it comes to the energy supply portion of the bill, customers have the option to choose from a variety of energy suppliers, some of whom now offer fixed prices. Information regarding energy suppliers can be found at www.nationalgrid.com under the "Supplier Choice" section or at www.newyorkpowertochoose.com. Customers who elect to have National Grid purchase their energy supply will see those costs passed along without markup, as the company does not profit from purchasing energy on customers' behalf.
National Grid encourages customers to shop for the supplier that best fits their energy and lifestyle needs. As with any purchase, customers should research alternative suppliers, compare prices and fully understand contract terms before signing. More information on how to choose an energy supplier, including frequently asked questions, can be found on National Grid's website under "Energy Choice" or on the PSC's website.
No matter what the winter weather may bring, National Grid reminds customers that employing conservation and energy efficiency can help manage bills. National Grid has a 20-year track record of successful, award-winning efficiency programs in the U.S., many available to upstate New York customers. Detailed information on all of National Grid's energy efficiency programs and additional efficiency tips can be found at it energy efficiency page.
The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority also has a number of programs and incentives available to residential and commercial energy users to help improve efficiency and manage bills. For more information, visit NYSERDA's energy-efficiency website or call 1-877-NY-SMART.
National Grid encourages customers to examine available billing options, particularly the budget billing program that helps spread payments out more evenly across the year. This is particularly helpful to individuals on fixed incomes. Help also is available for customers who have difficulty paying their heating bills. Customers who have concerns about their ability to pay are urged to call National Grid at 1-800-642-4272 as soon as possible. The sooner a customer calls, the easier it is for the company to offer assistance.
The low-income home energy assistance program provides financial assistance to income-eligible applicants. Households receiving public assistance, Supplemental Security Income or food stamps are the most likely to be eligible for LIHEAP. This federal program opens in November and is available on a first-come, first-served basis to all utility customers. Customers who believe they qualify are urged to call their local office of the New York State Office for the Aging or their county's Department of Social Services for more information.
National Grid delivers electricity to approximately 3.3 million customers in Massachusetts, New York and Rhode Island. It is the largest distributor of natural gas in northeastern U.S., serving approximately 3.4 million customers in New York, Massachusetts and Rhode Island.
For more information, visit www.nationalgridus.com.