ROCHESTER, NY (WXXI) – A new forecast on energy costs for heating in New York state calls for a spike in those expenses this coming winter.
During an annual presentation by the state of the NY State Public Service Commission last week, staffers said that on average, statewide, consumers will be hit with about a 21% increase in heating costs over the entire winter compared to last year.
Rochester Gas and Electric is forecasting about a 33% average increase over the winter for natural gas customers.
PSC Commissioner Diane Burman worried about the impact of price hikes if there is an unusually cold winter across the state.
To me the price issues seem to be downplayed. I am concerned there’s going to be major sticker shock if the current trends hold,” said Burman.
The increase expected in natural gas prices locally, and around the world is partly attributed to the global economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic which has driven up demand for power.
The upcoming winter’s electricity prices statewide are also projected to be higher than last winter, although the PSC said that commodity prices can vary significantly due to weather and other conditions.
NY PSC Chair Rory Christian noted there are several programs available to help people who have trouble paying their utility bills.
“I want to encourage New Yorkers in need to take advantage of these opportunities that are available. They take the form of direct financial assistance and technical assistance to help lower costs for individuals with needs, both in the form of direct financial payments and in the form of technical support in repairing and replacing heating equipment, said Christian.
Governor Kathy Hochul recently announced that more than $373 million in home heating aid is becoming available for low- and middle-income New Yorkers who need assistance. Applications for the Home Energy Assistance Program, also known as HEAP are now being accepted.
The PSC staff did say last week that it expects the state’s utilities will have adequate supplies of natural gas and electricity on hand this winter to meet the demands of residential and commercial customers.