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New Yorkers brace for higher winter heating costs

Heavy snow caused trees throughout Binghamton to fall earlier this week, and with them took down power lines. (Tom Magnarelli/WSKG News)
Heavy snow caused trees throughout Binghamton to fall earlier this week, and with them took down power lines. (Tom Magnarelli/WSKG News)

WXXI- Energy costs, both electricity and natural gas are expected to rise this winter. But local utilities and organizations say there is help available, particularly for people with lower incomes.

Just how much your utility bill might rise this winter is due to a number of factors, but recent comments by both government and non-profit organizations and the utilities themselves indicate those costs are going up.

An official with Rochester Gas & Electric and New York State Electric & Gas, which are both owned by AVANGRID, said that their electricity and gas delivery rates are expected to remain steady through the winter, but it’s the supply prices , that come from third parties , that are projected to increase significantly.

That’s according to Terri VanBrooker, Vice President of Customer Service for the two utilities.

It’s projected that based on current market prices, the average residential RG&E and NYSEG customer in Western NY will pay an average of about $12 more a month for electricity from December through March, which is about a 14% increase from last year.

For customers who use natural gas for heating are expected to pay an average of $47 a month more for gas, which is about 30% higher than last year.

VanBrooker said that the utilities “encourage our customers to take steps to ensure they are using energy wisely.” That includes weatherization projects, conservation measures and considering the utilities’ budget billing service.

The issue concerning higher heating costs this winter was addressed at a recent news conference in Rochester by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), and Ann Marie Cook, who is the president and CEO of Lifespan, the local organization that helps older adults.

Cook said that Lifespan can help seniors apply for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program.

“Any older adult can call us,” said Cook. “We will go through eligibility with them, we will help them fill out their applications. Already the beginning of October, we're exceeding applications than we were the previous year. So this is how concerned people are and worried. And we're happy to help.”

Lifespan can be reached at 585-244-8400 or you can get information online at: www.lifespan-roch.org/

While prices will not be easy for a lot of New Yorkers to deal with this winter, the New York State Public Service Commission said that it does expect the state’s utilities to have adequate supplies of natural gas and electricity this winter.