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Lower oil prices won't change LIPA bills

Oil prices may have dropped, but that won't translate to lower electric bills for Long Islanders in part because nearly all of LIPA's power plants use natural gas for fuel.

Though oil prices have fluctuated wildly in the past two years, natural gas prices have held relatively steady.

At its June board of trustees meeting, the Long Island Power Authority indicated rates would hold steady for its 1.1 million users for the next three months -- the season of heaviest usage because of air conditioners and pool filters.

"We won't need to adjust the rate for the third quarter," LIPA chief operating officer Michael Hervey said at the meeting.

Though local power plants can use fuel oil, prices have been so high that LIPA has relied nearly 100 percent on natural gas to fuel the plants -- good news for stabilizing electricity prices and lower emissions. The decision comes though LIPA's fuel and purchased power costs at May's end were $44 million over budget, the utility reported.

Mark Gross, a LIPA spokesman, said rates were being held steady despite being over budget because "LIPA is within its net income target for the year."

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