Special to New York Construction Report
Con Edison is urging customers to take actions now that can help them manage costs this winter as market prices for electricity and natural gas are expected to be substantially higher.
Though summer is still winding down, Con Edison, recognizing the hardship high bills can impose, is letting customers know what they can expect for energy costs in the winter of 2022-’23 and steps they can take to soften the impact.
The company offers energy-saving tips and a number of payment assistance options, including levelized billing, which smooths a customer’s costs out throughout the year. The company encourages customers to check out its energy efficiency incentives for upgrades customers make to their homes.
Local electric and gas companies and customers across the Northeast are facing similar circumstances. The increases in customer bills are mainly due to increases in the market cost of natural gas, which is volatile and also influences electric market costs.
The company currently projects that its average residential natural gas heating customer using an average of 165 therms per month will pay $460 a month from November 2022 to March 2023, 32 percent more than the average bill of $348 a year earlier.
Supply costs will account for $90 of that $112 increase, while delivery charges will account for $22, under the company’s projections.
Con Edison buys natural gas and electricity on the wholesale markets and uses a variety of strategies to stabilize pricing for customers. The company does not set supply costs and does not make a profit on the supply.
Higher natural gas prices also affect the cost of electricity, since power generation plants in the Greater New York City region run mainly on natural gas.
A New York City residential customer using 300 kilowatt hours a month this winter will pay about $116, a 22-percent increase over last winter’s $95, based on current projections.
A Westchester County customer using 600 kilowatt hours a month will have an average bill of $203, a 27-percent increase over last winter’s $160, based on the company’s latest estimates.
For a small commercial customer using 583 kilowatt hours per month, bills are projected to rise $44, or 23 percent, from $194 last winter to $238.
A larger commercial customer using 10,800 kilowatt hours per month with a peak demand of 31 kilowatts will see an increase of $706, or 28 percent, from $2,524 to $3,230.
The best strategy for Con Edison’s 3.5 million customers is to carefully manage their usage.
Customers can save money on energy by using these tips:
- Set thermostats at the lowest comfortable temperature. Each degree lower decreases heating costs.
- Make sure heating vents are not blocked by furniture, carpeting or anything else that could obstruct the flow of heat.
- Have a qualified contractor clean and inspect heating systems.
- Insulate hot-water pipes and warm-air ducts that pass through unheated areas. Clean or replace filters for the hot-air furnace and heat-pump.
- Swap out window shades seasonally. Light-colored window coverings reflect the sun’s energy, while darker ones absorb it and release heat.
- Replace conventional light bulbs with LED bulbs, which are up to 10 times more efficient, and are widely available and affordable.
The company offers help for customers who are struggling with their bills. Con Edison can assist customers with payment plans, so that they can pay off balances over time, rather than all at once.
Con Edison is also implementing the New York State Electric and Gas Bill Relief Program, which the company helped design and propose.
Under that program, residential customers who receive qualifying government assistance will receive a bill credit on their past-due balance for service through May 1, 2022.
For customers who are enrolled in Con Edison’s Energy Affordability program or received Emergency Rental Assistance Program or Home Energy Assistance Program-Regular Arrears Supplement benefits, bill credits will be processed automatically. In addition, service will not be suspended for non-payment while credits are being processed.
Customers who receive benefits from certain government programs may qualify for discounts on their monthly energy bills. Con Edison offers information on these and other forms of assistance it has available for customers.
The company’s campaign to keep customers informed about winter bills will include press outreach, e-mails, bill inserts, social media postings, conversations with elected officials and other communications.
Con Edison also notes that energy costs are changing quickly with significant shifts on a daily basis. The company will continue to refine its winter pricing forecast.
Natural gas supplies are expected to remain tight this winter, and any disruption from interstate gas transmission providers could further constrain supplies. Con Edison remains vigilant in its monitoring of operational conditions.