RG&E and NYSEG to suspend late payment charges for winter heating season
Two local utilities have announced that they will suspend late payment charges for their customers this winter heating season.
Rochester Gas and Electric and New York State Electric and Gas, both part of the company, Avangrid, say they will suspend the late fees from December 1 through April 15, 2023.
Company president and CEO Trish Nilsen said that while the utilities’ electric and natural gas delivery rates are expected to remain steady during the winter, supply prices are expected to climb. That represents the cost of the energy that the utilities have to buy on the open market.
“We are seeing increased supply costs because of worldwide events, issues in the Ukraine, availability of natural gas, which in many cases powers the generating facilities that serve customers,” said Nilsen. “So we were seeing that impact and we thought at this time, it would be good to make this move.”
It’s estimated an average electric customer will see about a 42% increase in supply costs this winter compared to a year ago, with natural gas going up around 30%. Nilsen said the utilities do not realize any financial benefit from supply charges.
Nilsen said that with the higher energy supply costs being forecast, it will exacerbate the situation that already makes it tough for some customers during the winter months.
“I can tell you that every winter heating season, we see an influx of customers who have an increased challenge in paying their bills, because they’re depending upon energy for heat. And their bills tend to go up in the wintertime because of the cold weather that we have here in upstate New York,” said Nilsen.
RG&E and NYSEG say that they also have deferred payment agreements available for eligible customers, and there are also federal grant programs that can help some households. You can find more information on their website.
The New York Independent System Operator this week also reported that electricity supplies in New York State are expected to be sufficient this winter to meet forecasted peak demand conditions. The NYISO is a not-for-profit corporation responsible for operating the state’s bulk electricity grid and conducting comprehensive long-term planning for the state’s electric power system.