National Grid gas customers face a $19.73 increase in their bills this month after a market trading anomaly led to a price spike in February.
PSEG ratepayers, meanwhile, face a 26% jump in their power supply charge for February, to just over 12 cents a kilowatt-hour, compared with February, 2021. The increase over January’s charge was 12%.
PSEG said this month's increase was "mainly due to [the] increase in gas price projections for the month of February." The company noted part of the increase was offset by hedging activity by PSEG and LIPA that offsets market volatility.
Wholesale natural gas prices jumped 46% on Jan. 27, the biggest one-day gain ever, on precisely the day that prices are set for following month. The resulting increase could lead customer costs for gas across the U.S. to jump by $6.2 billion, according to the Industrial Energy Consumers of America, a manufacturers group, which called on the Commodities Futures Trading Commission to investigate.
"The key question is, who financially benefited from the increase and how can the [commission] prevent it from happening again," said Paul N. Cicio, chief executive of the group, in a statement.
CFTC spokeswoman Donna Faulk-White said, "We do not confirm or deny nor speak in any way to the existence of investigations."
The February increase comes atop natural gas prices that were already expected to jump this heating season. Newsday in October reported natural gas prices were expected to increase up to 26% for the winter, adding an average $215 to customer bills for the five-month heating season, or around $43 a month.
In addition, for those who heat with fuel oil, Newsday last month reported that prices hit an eight-year high of $4.02 per gallon on Long Island, also reflecting market volatility tied to geopolitical and demand issues in a colder-than-expected winter.
"We recognize that higher supply prices are not easy for anyone, and in particular those who are struggling to regroup from economic hardship brought on by the pandemic," said Melanie Littlejohn, National Grid’s director of customer & community for New York state.
Customers who are struggling to pay their heating bills can contact the company's assistance website here.