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Winter gas-heating bills predicted to jump 21%-26% for state, LI

A National Grid worker turns the gas back

A National Grid worker turns the gas back at a home in Lawrence. Credit: Jim Staubitser

Residential customers across the state can expect gas heating bills to jump around 21%, or $165 through this winter, while Long Island customers could see a jump of up to 26%, or $215, industry and state officials said Thursday.

On the electric side, the state expects customers statewide to see a total $20 increase in the supply portion of their bills between December and March, or around $5 a month, according to a forecast by the state Department of Public Service. LIPA has yet to release its 2022 budget, but power supply charges have edged up in 2021, despite a forecast last year that they would decline this year.

The projected winter increases are because of higher projected gas supply prices compared with last year, officials said, stressing that actual bills could vary up or down depending on the severity of this winter’s weather and customer usage.

For Long Islanders, National Grid expects natural gas bills during the five-month winter period will jump around $215, or around $43 a month, resulting in total winter heating bills of around $1,051, a 26% increase from last year, said Melanie Littlejohn, the company's vice president of NY customer & community. Around $9 of that increase is due to a state-approved increase in the delivery portion of customer bills.

For National Grid's New York City customers, average total winter heating bills are expected to be around $1,132, a 23% increase from last year. The increases come as state utilities continue to see customers falling behind on bills and arrears statewide have sharply increased during 2021.

"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," Littlejohn said. National Grid's website offers customers access government programs that can help reduce winter heating costs, and "we encourage customers to reach out if they're experiencing hardship with these bills," Littlejohn said.

The statewide natural gas-use forecast for this winter, which translates to an average $33-a-month increase, compares New Yorkers' actual average natural gas bills last winter of $770 to an anticipated bill this winter of $935.

The Department of Public Service said supply should be adequate for the winter with no need for natural gas moratoriums, such as that put in place by National Grid two years ago that sent shock waves across Long Island.

"We will continue to closely monitor the utilities serving New York State to make sure they have adequate sources and supplies of electricity and natural gas to meet expected customer demands this winter," said Rory M. Christian, newly named chairman of the state Public Service Commission, in a statement. He noted state utilities have protections against volatile market swings in energy costs.

Richard Meyer, vice president of energy analysis, markets and standards for the American Gas Association, an industry group, said that while the U.S. supply of natural gas at the moment is "abundant" and "growing," demand continues to outpace supply, driving up prices. He said he expects production to continue to increase through year end and into 2022, potentially easing pricing pressure.

"As demand grows, the market will catch up," he said. "Sometimes that takes a little bit of time."

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