A newly formed group of LIPA ratepayers who heat their homes exclusively with electricity pleaded with state officials Thursday to tame a “volatile” power charge they say has left seniors literally in the cold.
The Long Island Coalition of All-Electric Communities met with state Department of Public Service officials in St. James to seek relief from charges they say inordinately affect the more 4,000 homes whose winter bills spike because they use large amounts of power for heat.
Fireworks started shortly after state representatives proceeded through a familiar litany of energy-efficiency measures that can cut energy usage, including changing to LED bulbs and better insulating homes against winter drafts.
“I don’t want to hear about insulation,” grumbled William Kane of the Leisure Knoll retirement community in Ridge. “I want to hear about these numbers coming down specifically. I want to hear what you can do.”
Guy Mazza, director of the Long Island office of the public service department, told the representatives of community associations, most of them seniors, that LIPA customers can plead their case for rate relief when the utility files for a rate increase with the state. LIPA’s rate structure covers increases for three years, ending in December 2018.
“I wish I could say there’s a magic solution,” Mazza said, emphasizing the efficiency measures.
PSEG spokesman Jeff Weir said the utility “welcomed the opportunity” to work with the coalition to provide free home-energy audits and lower bills.
LIPA can file for a new rate next year that would take effect in 2019, though it’s unclear it will do so.
Steve Gleason, a founding member of the coalition and a resident of Fairfield at St. James, said all-electric customers are hit harder by increases linked to usage because they use more power in winter.
Most of the groups already have a special rate that cuts their power delivery charge to 3.85 cents a kilowatt from 6.79 cents from Oct. 1 through May 31, when usage rises above 400 kilowatt hours.
About 42,000 of LIPA’s 1.1 million customers are all-electric.