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The Real Deal: National Grid offers Temporary Reprieve from High Electric Prices

ALBANYThe supply cost of electric doubled for National Grid customers from December to January and the rates were set to go even higher in February but Upstate New York customers will get a temporary reprieve.  The utility announced Wednesday that it will freeze the electric supply rate from January to soften the blow of major price spikes.   The price per kilowatt hour was set to increase by 20-30% in February but National Grid says it will hold off on charging customers that increase, instead likely collecting it a little at a time over the next six months.
"It was going to be even more of a shock (the price of electric) and we know that there are people out there that are having trouble paying their bills and they're expecting one thing and see another, says Patrick Stella, a spokesman for National Grid.  Although National Grid really only controls the delivery side of the bill, the utility asked the Public Service Commission to soften the blow on the supply side of the bill.  I know you've been reporting on it and our customers have certainly been calling us about it and as we've discussed, supply rates are something we don't really control but if we can somehow work with the Public Service Commission and mitigate these things, especially during these winter months when people are using a lot of electricity," Stella says.
The February National Grid bills will show the higher supply cost but they will also show a credit on a line item labeled ESRM, that credit is temporary though.  Eventually, we are going to have to collect those funds when temperatures are warmer, when people aren't struggling so much to pay their bills, Stella says. 
As CBS6 has been reporting, electric rates are sky-high right now across upstate New York.  The states transportation system is dated, the demand is high and natural gas which is used in the production of electricity is also increasing in price.  National Grid says it will take another look at how much electric it buys in advance verses riding the market to see if changes can or should be made but right now, customers are on the hook.  "From what we know, from the market and the information we're getting a lot of the spike in cost have been due to cold temperatures, high price of natural gas and generally that does happen this time of year," Stella says. 
The temporary credit is not available to customers who purchase their electric through an Energy Service Company (ESCO).  National Grid says details of the pay-back plan will be included in Marchs bill once they are finalized. 
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