National Grid spike in electric cost: The Real Deal

Published 02/11 2014 11:49PM

Updated 02/12 2014 01:12PM

Syracuse (WSYR-TV) - With lingering low temperatures, peak demand for electricity hit a winter record in New York State this year, the highest in a decade, according to the New York Independent System Operator.

Donna Woytan relies on electricity for her rural home in Tully. In the span of one month, her bill increased from $456 to $1,162.

"We're just like floored, literally floored at the dollar amount,” Woytan said. "I used less electricity this month than I did last year and I had a brand new furnace installed this summer to be more efficient."

National Grid blames the laws of supply and demand. They control delivery charges, but the cost of commodities are passed directly to customers without a markup.

Prices rise when demand is high during a colder than average winter.

The Public Service Commission agrees that all utility customers are seeing higher electric bills.

But, the increase for National Grid's Upstate customers was expected to be much higher in February than any other area in the state.

In a statement, the PSC writes:

"Given the nature of this region-specific increase in supply costs, the Commission will be reviewing the reasonableness of National Grid's hedging practices and retail rate mechanisms to avoid similar occurrences in the future."

Bills for February are expected to increase another 20 to 30 percent.

Anticipating a backlash, National Grid sought permission from the Public Service Commission to issue a temporary credit.

Instead of absorbing the entire increase in one bill, customers will get charged in smaller payments, likely over the next several months. The exact timeline hasn't been determined by the PSC.

The charge will appear on a separate line of National Grid bills as ESRM, electricity supply reconciliation mechanism.

Woytan hopes her neighbors will call the PSC hotline for billing related complaints to increase pressure for a long-term solution.

"It's a band-aid," Woytan said. "Somebody needs to do something about these rates. I just think it is highway robbery."

To share your billing complaints with the PSC, call 1-800-342-3377.

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