May 13—Get out those T-shirts and shorts, summer electricity prices (and therefore air conditioning costs) are expected to rise 12 percent this summer, according to the state Public Service Commission.
"Overall, the Statewide average residential full-service commodity rate is expected to be about 12 percent higher than last summer," according to a statement from the PSC on Thursday.
Mostly, the increase stems from rising natural gas prices, which is the result of post-COVID economic growth and uncertainty over global fuel supplies in light of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
"Because of an expected increase in generator fuel costs as well as the changes in capacity prices and obligations, residential and commercial customers may experience higher commodity bills this summer than last," PSC Chairman Rory Christian said in a prepared statement Thursday about the expected increases.
This isn't to say that power prices have been flat in recent years. The expected summer increases follow 11 percent price hikes each year during the last two summers. And this summer would mark a return to 2014 prices, which was followed by several years of falling natural gas prices.
Estimates on how this summer's increase will likely translate into dollars and cents weren't immediately available. But the higher prices also come after winter costs were on the increase, too.
Power from natural gas serves to heat homes in the winter and cool them in the summer. While natural gas systems are used to power boilers and furnaces in homes and buildings, summer air conditioning puts a load on the electric grid. That electricity is largely generated by natural gas-powered plants, which typically make up more than a third of the state's energy sources.
National Grid, a major utility serving much of upstate, last fall predicted that customers would face increases of about $36 per month in heating costs with natural gas.
On the bright side, the actual electricity usage in the state is hitting lower peaks due to ongoing efficiency improvements.
New York in the summer of 2013 set a record peak load of 33,955 megawatts. Peak load this summer is forecast to be of 31,765 MWs. And while the cost may go up, PSC analysts say the state has adequate power plant capacity to meet the demand, with a total of 41,166 MW worth of capacity.
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