If you’ve seen a spike in your energy bill, you’re not alone. Nationally, electricity prices for residential customers rose 4.3% last year, the largest annual increase since 2008, according to the Energy Information Administration. In the New York area, however, electricity prices were 59.9% higher compared to the United States as a whole. New York area residents paid an average of 19.6 cents per kWh compared to the 14.8 cents per kWh seen in the national average as of February 2022.
Within New York State itself, electricity costs went up by 20% whereas utility gas costs rose by 16.7% over the last year according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Reports show New Yorkers’ utility debt has soared and many are seeking help to pay their bills. This includes over 400,000 residential Con Ed customers in New York City and Westchester. Based on data from January 2022, these residents collectively owe over $800 million USD on utilities.
How to Read and Understand Your Con Edison Bill
Let’s face it. The breakdown of line items on your bill isn’t easy to read. What you need to know is that other than taxes, there are two main types of charges reflected on your bill: the delivery charge and the supply charge.
The delivery charge accounts for the infrastructure that carries the electricity from the utility to your home. Think wires, substations, and other infrastructure.
The supply charge covers the cost of electricity itself. When the cost of producing electricity goes up, the supply charge also goes up.
Volatile prices reflect turbulent times.
Why Your Con Edison Bill Is So High
Con Edison passes the cost of electricity down onto its customers. The cost of producing electricity relies on the sources of electricity. Sources of electricity in New York State are mainly derived from fossil fuels, such as natural gas.
The US exports natural gas globally, which reduces domestic supply and leads to higher prices. Moreover, a global shortage of natural gas is made worse with US sanctions against Russia due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine during the on-going crisis.
Bruce Alch, the director of consumer services within New York State Department of Public Service (DPS), says increased demand for natural gas are due to: “colder-than-normal weather compared to last year, increased economic activity, constrained domestic pipeline capacity, and increased global demand for natural gas.”
Weather, market demand, and supply all influence the price of electricity, and therefore, your utility bill.
What You Can Do to Reduce Your Bill
To access resources to help you pay your bill, consult the following list compiled by New York City centric reporters:
> Apply for the New York State-run Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) for those who receive food stamps, temporary assistance, or Social Security.
> Apply for cash assistance if you or someone you know is elderly, blind, mentally impaired, or has a disability.
> Consult with the Center for Urban Community Services, Public Utility Law Project, or New York City Department of Social Services to help you navigate your eligibility for assistance.
> Apply for supplemental HEAP, which will pay up to $10,000 in arrears directly to your utility company if you’re eligible for HEAP but behind on bills.
> More than $90 million is available through emergency HEAP for low-income customers at risk of having heat shut off.
> For those ineligible for HEAP, consider the Emergency Rental Assistance Program, which offers limited one-time utility arrears payments for those who also received rental assistance. The ERAP program has limited funding and thousands of New Yorkers have applied to it, as previously reported by The City.
> Con Ed also provides links to resources on their website.
What Else Can You Do?
Amidst the chaos of rising prices, there’s some good news too. You can sign up for Meltek to get paid to save energy – for free.
How does it work, exactly?
Once you sign up, you will get notified via text message or email during specific times of the day to reduce your energy usage.
Unplug large appliances you’re not using. Turn off the lights. Power down anything that eats up electricity in your home. Then, when the event is over, Meltek will alert you on how much you’ve saved and will reward you accordingly.
Utilities like Con Ed are willing to pay customers to reduce their energy use during specific high-cost time windows, which we call “energy-saving events”, instead of spending money on expensive and polluting power generators that would produce extra power during those times.
Signing up for Meltek is free and can help you not only save on your bill and earn money, but also ease up pressure on the utilities that produce energy, which at the end of the day, helps out the environment too.
Learn more on how it works here.
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