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Higher National Grid rates, approved by state, start Feb. 1

The "Spirit of Light" stainless steel sculpture adorns the National Grid building in downtown Syracuse. State regulators today approved higher electric and gas rates for the utility. David Lassman | The Post-Standard

Syracuse, N.Y. – State regulators today approved higher rates for natural gas and electricity in National Grid’s Upstate territory. Residential electric bills will increase about 2% each year for the next three years, beginning Feb. 1. Gas bills will go up about 2% this year and 3% in each of the next two years.

For a typical residential customer using 600 kilowatt-hours of electricity per month, the new delivery rates will add $1.88 a month this year; another $1.88 a month next year; and $2.23 a month in 2024.

For a typical residential customer using an average of 82 therms of gas per month, the new rates will hike bills about $1.51 a month this year; $2.37 a month next year; and $2.56 a month in 2024.

The state Public Service Commission approved the rates at its meeting today. The PSC controls the utility’s delivery rates -- which cover manpower and the cost of maintaining its networks, plus a profit -- but does not control the price of energy commodities.

The higher regulated charges come during a winter in which rising market prices also are hiking customer bills. Residential gas and electric supply charges – which vary with wholesale markets – were more than twice as high this month as they were in January 2021, according to a review of customer bills.

In October, National Grid warned that the higher market prices would increase the cost of heating a typical home by about $180 this winter. The utility does not make a profit from the supply charges.

The new rates approved today are lower than what National Grid asked for more than a year ago. The utility in July 2020 asked to increase annual electric revenues by $100 million and gas revenues by $42 million. Those increases would have hit all at once.

Instead, the staff of the Public Service Commission negotiated a settlement with National Grid in September that reduced the increase and phased it in over three years. Nine other parties involved in the proceedings agreed to the deal.

Opponents included the Public Utility Law Project, an advocacy group for low-income customers. PULP lauded the PSC for cutting back National Grid’s request but said they should have cut more. Many customers, including those with low incomes, are already struggling to pay, PULP argued.

More than 230,000 residential customers are at least 60 days overdue paying their National Grid bills, according to reports filed by the utility. Those customers owe nearly $365 million altogether.

The new rate plan increases utility discounts for low-income customers to $81 million over the three years.

The rate plan calls for $3.3 billion in capital investments to improve the safety, resiliency and reliability of National Grid’s energy networks. The utility’s Upstate territory serves more than 1.6 million customers from Albany to Buffalo.

The plan also includes $800 million in funding for energy efficiency programs.


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