Con Ed’s summer prices will go easy on your wallet

 

Con Ed’s summer prices are expected to drop again this year compared to last. The company said in a news release May 26 that it expects “slightly” lower prices this summer, thanks to lower prices charged by companies that generate electricity.

From the news release:

“A typical New York City residential customer using 350 kilowatt hours (kWh) per month can expect a 2.4 percent drop from $98.80 in 2015 to $96.47 this year. A typical Westchester residential customer using 500 kWh per month can expect an average decrease of 2.3 percent from $125.38 in 2015 to $122.51. A typical New York City business customer using 10,800 kWh and having a peak demand of 31 kW, can expect average monthly summer bills to decrease from $2,350 in 2015 to $2,264 this year, or 3.7 percent.”

State government has put out a similar message. Statewide, wholesale electricity prices are significantly off their peak in 2008, the Public Service Commission says.

2016-06 Con Ed summer bills graphWholesale electricity prices have been on a long-term downward trend. This chart shows the wholesale power price paid in July by a typical Con Edison residential customer. These figures only apply to part of your power bill. Con Ed charges you separately to deliver this power to your home.

If you want to really get into the weeds of this stuff, here’s the US Energy Information Administration’s short-term price forecast. [The data is updated monthly; this post refers to numbers released June 7.] The numbers here are nationwide, and don’t directly translate to Con Ed bills. But a dive into the government’s data brings up some interesting points.

Nationally, the data shows, wholesale natural gas prices are down significantly over the last year, by about 15.5 percent.¬†That’s important to New Yorkers’ electricity bills. Lower natural gas prices are fueling much of the decline in the state’s electricity prices, since natural gas is the leading fuel in New York’s electric generating plants. Fracking and new gas discoveries have helped drive down gas prices.

To understand how much we benefit from lower natural gas prices, consider that nationally, electricity prices are not down as steeply as in New York. The government says that nationwide, residential prices are down by 0.24 percent over the last year. But other states’ electric grids do not rely as much on natural gas as New York.

What you actually pay depends on how much power you actually use. If it’s hotter this year than it was last year — leading you and everyone else to crank up their air conditioners — your 2016 power bills might exceed what you paid in 2015.

But conservation also plays a role. As the state’s news release notes, the state hit its all-time record load a decade ago. On August 2, 2006, the state’s power plants and transmission wires delivered 33,939 megawatts of power. (If you need to visualize that, one megawatt is enough electricity to power between 800 to 1,000 average-sized homes.)

Peak demand has dropped ever since. A big part of that has come about from efficiency. Bit by bit, those newfangled light bulbs have made a difference in power use. More efficient building heating and cooling systems have also helped.

Government forecasters don’t think the good times will last — they’re forecasting a boost in electricity and natural gas prices next year. And Con Ed is looking to raise its charges for delivering power to your home and running the power grid in 2017. But this summer, you can keep cool for less money.

 

About Bill Sanderson

I'm a New York-based journalist, and a former reporter at the Concord Monitor in New Hampshire, the Bergen Record in New Jersey, and the New York Post. My work has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, MarketWatch.com and Politico New York. Twitter: @wpsanderson.
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