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RG&E: customers can expect a decrease in natural gas costs this winter, but will likely pay more for electricity

The RG&E station behind the convention center and next to the Broad Street Bridge.
Max Schulte
The RG&E station behind the convention center and next to the Broad Street Bridge.

Rochester Gas and Electric (RG&E) said Wednesday that its customers can expect to see a decrease in their winter heating bills this winter, in terms of costs for natural gas, but they are expected to pay a bit more for electricity.

The utility is forecasting a 30% decrease in supply costs for natural gas.

“Part of the reason for the projected decrease in gas supply costs is due to improved reserves in the U.S. and in part by less demand for liquified natural gas in Europe,” said Pat Fox, senior director of Energy Services for RG&E. “If we have normal winter weather, we expect to see the cost of natural gas fall off significantly compared to last year.”

RG&E purchases natural gas and electricity supply on the open market. A statement from the company said that it does not realize any financial benefit from supply charges, “which are passthrough costs that represent the actual cost of purchasing the energy (natural gas and electricity) to deliver to customers.”

At this point, RG&E is anticipating the average residential natural gas customer is expected to pay $40 less for gas supply service over the November through March time frame compared to last year.

But the utility expects the average customer will also pay nearly $40 more in electric supply service compared to a year ago, based on current market prices.

The New York State Public Service Commission recently approved a double-digit increase in utility delivery rates for RG&E and the company said that change is taken into consideration when they came up with these latest estimates for the upcoming winter.

RG&E said it realizes customers can still be challenged by winter heating bills, and the company noted there are various payment options and energy efficiency programs, and customers can begin applying for HEAP, the Home Energy Assistance Program, which is set to open on November 1.

Randy Gorbman is WXXI's director of news and public affairs. Randy manages the day-to-day operations of WXXI News on radio, television, and online.