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Energy prices are expected to rise. How can you keep costs down?

As the seasons change and the weather turns colder, people could see their energy costs increase. WSKG talks with NYSEG President and CEO Trish Nilsen.

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Brent Fox: So why could people see their energy bills be going up this winter?

Trish Nilsen: Well, energy costs maybe to step back a minute, energy costs are really broken into two things for our customers, delivery cost and supply cost. The delivery costs for customers is remaining unchanged. That's the portion of the bill that NYSEG collects to deliver energy on our pipes and wires to our customers. The supply cost is the part that we across the energy industry are seeing change. And it's affected by a number of economic factors, certainly worldwide events and the availability of energy. And the fact that generating plants in many cases are reliant upon natural gas and other fuel resources to run those turbines. And as we know, just like when we go to the gas pump for our vehicle, if we have a gasoline powered vehicle, we're seeing those price impacts at the fuel pumps. The same thing is happening for the various generating companies that are serving New York state.

Fox: Why could this year see higher energy costs than in years past?

Nilsen: It's, it's really based on what's going on in the current marketplace. We're looking at gas prices for generating stations that are dramatically increasing for our customers. It's really a nationwide impact. So it's not just New York state that seeing this, in fact, other states may be seeing more extreme energy prices, it all depends on the generation that is serving the customers of the utility. And as a reminder, NYSEG doesn't own any generation anymore, with the exception of some small hydro generation across the state. So what we do on behalf of our customers is we purchase energy supply on the open market. And it's those open market prices that every one is going to see as we forecast some bill impacts for it.

Fox: And what could people do to maybe help keep their energy costs down?

Nilsen: There are a number of things customers can do. First of all, be an aware shopper, look at that price on your bill and look out in the marketplace. If you want a fixed price, there are suppliers out there that may offer a fixed price to you. There are community energy programs, and certainly it pays to be a knowledgeable shopper. So that's one thing a customer can do. But that takes a little homework. The thing that everyone can do right now is to look at ways to use their energy wisely at home or at their business. And it's simple steps like setting your thermostat, you know, to below 68 degrees because each degree above 68 uses 3% more energy. So it's looking at that thermostat.

Using a programmable thermostat is another thing. So if you're away from home all day, use a programmable thermostat that you can then have the heat go down when you're away, and then turn up that heat before you come home. So you're not walking into that cold house. Look at home energy assistance programs through the state and federal government. That money is there for our customers to use exactly in times like these when they need it. It's money that we've all paid our taxes for. So it's really getting a benefit that particularly our senior citizens have paid into all these years. So I encourage customers to take advantage of state and federal assistance programs, rebate programs to make their home just a little energy wiser and reach out to us if they're having any trouble.

(End of interview)

Here are links to a few state and federal energy rebate and assistance programs.

NYSEG Residential Rebates


Energy Grants

Energy Star