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Lower natural gas, electric bills expected this winter, state says

The New York State Public Service Commission says

The New York State Public Service Commission says gas and electric prices for consumers should dip slightly lower than last winter's figures, on average.  Credit: Newsday / John Paraskevas

Natural gas and electric bills will probably be lower this winter, the state monitor of public utilities announced Thursday.

The New York State Public Service Commission said prices should dip to figures slightly lower than last year’s, on average.

“We anticipate energy consumers will benefit from lower than average energy prices this winter, which is welcome news for all of us,” said John B. Rhodes, who chairs the Albany-based commission that oversees public utilities. “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 current customer demands this winter.

The average residential customer using 600 kilowatt-hours per month is expected to pay about $34 per month for supply, officials said in a news release. And customers consuming 720 therms of natural gas can expect to pay less than $760 from November through March. The agency cautioned that these estimates are statewide averages and that prices may vary from utility to utility and region to region.

“PSEG Long Island expects the power supply charge to be about the same as an average winter,” said Elizabeth F. Flagler, head of external communications of the electric utility.

National Grid spokesman Domenick Graziani said the utility’s customers can look forward to a break.

“Our winter heating season forecast calls for our Long Island customers to see natural gas bills that are lower, assuming a typical winter,” he said in a statement. “Based on a typical usage of 725 therms for a five-month heating season (November to March), our residential gas customers are forecasted to pay about $883 this winter heating season, or a decrease of $51 (-5.4%) less than last year.”

The public service commission said an unusually cold winter would make prices spike.

Still, the news release added, the utilities are prepared for winter’s bite, saying the major electricity-generating facility owners in southeastern New York are “having increased pre-winter on-site fuel reserves, having firm contracts with fuel oil suppliers, conducting more aggressive replenishment plans, and having more proactive pre-winter maintenance and facilities preparations.”

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