Energy Supply Cost Volatility
Supply prices for both electricity and natural gas increased significantly starting in early 2022 as the region navigated a colder than average winter and as global and regional energy factors affected pricing.
Customers are urged to prepare for elevated supply prices into fall and winter of 2022, as a number of external factors, including extended periods of heat in August, have driven electric and natural gas prices higher.
Supply Pricing Explained
Unlike Central Hudson's delivery rates, energy supply prices are based on market pricing. Supply prices rise and fall based on demand and fuel price fluctuations. Central Hudson and other delivery utilities do not dictate energy supply prices, nor do we profit from them. The supply portion of our customers' bill payment is paid to the independent generators and suppliers of electricity and natural gas.
There are three main parts to each customer’s electricity bills:
- Energy supply costs – Central Hudson does not make a profit on the energy supply portion of a customer’s bill. Central Hudson does not own significant power generation. It purchases electricity and natural gas on behalf of customers. The price Central Hudson pays for energy is the same price paid by its customers.
- Energy delivery costs – This is the amount Central Hudson charges customers to delivery electricity and natural gas. The NY State Public Service Commission approves this cost.
- Taxes – This is the amount levied by government.
Here are some options to help you guard against the possibility of higher-than-usual energy bills:
At Central Hudson, we’ve taken additional steps to help manage the unpredictability of electricity and gas supply prices during winter months when weather and other factors may significantly impact wholesale market prices. But if you prefer greater price certainty for electricity or natural gas supply, research the many fixed price and other alternative supply offerings available from the numerous qualified Energy Services Companies (ESCOs) that offer such options. You may find a list of all ESCOs on the New York State Power to Choose website. While fixed price options may not necessarily result in the lowest given supply price during any season, they can provide the peace of mind that helps to better manage your household budget.
If you would like a consistent, predictable, monthly energy bill that is free of fluctuations caused by weather extremes, our Budget Billing program may be right for you. Budget Billing spreads your electric and natural gas bill payments evenly over 12 months. Your monthly budget payments will be uniform for 11 months and estimated based on your usage history. The bill for the 12th month will include a plus-or-minus adjustment to reflect your actual usage and energy charges incurred throughout the year.
To enroll in Budget Billing, click here.
Payment Assistance Programs
We offer an option to apply for deferred payment agreements so customers who have fallen behind on bills can get caught up. Additionally, our Good Neighbor Fund and public assistance programs such as HEAP are also available to assist income-eligible customers. You can learn about these options and programs on the Payment Assistance page of our website.
Supply Pricing Q&A
Below is a Q&A to help you understand the causes of energy supply price volatility.
Q: What are the factors driving increased supply prices?
Several international, national and regional factors are contributing to this market volatility. Locally, the closure of Indian Point last year increased the region’s reliance on natural gas for power generation. According to the New York Independent System Operator (NYISO), the organization responsible for managing the state’s electric grid, retiring Indian Point raised the use of fossil fuels for generation in downstate New York from 77 percent to 89 percent and increased average electricity prices by 85 percent between 2020 and 2021.
This trend has continued in 2022 as Central Hudson set an all-time record for single day natural gas send out on August 4 (156,400 ccf) with a significant portion of that volume going to the Roseton and Danskammer power plants in order to meet demand.
Other factors driving increased prices include:
- Central Hudson’s storage inventory remains slightly ahead of plan, however, physical storage inventory levels in the U.S. and Northeast remain lower than last year and below the five-year average ahead of an anticipated cold winter;
- Supply and transportation pipeline constraints in the northeast continue to drive up prices during times of high demand;
- An unplanned outage of a natural gas-fired power generator in eastern New York contributed to higher electric prices regionally;
- Unrest in eastern Europe continues to have a significant impact on energy markets world-wide.
Q: Are only Central Hudson customers impacted by the increased supply costs?
Regional and global factors continue to create volatility within the energy markets. The NYISO issued a report warning of elevated winter energy prices. Neighboring utilities National Grid and Con Edison are now issuing warnings to customers about elevated prices through the winter months as well.
Q: By how much are bills going up?
For updated information on this, please see our most recent news release here.
Q: Why are you raising bills at a time when residents, businesses and communities are struggling?
Central Hudson does not control the energy supply portion of utility bills. These prices are determined by energy markets, and Central Hudson and other utilities do not mark up or profit on these costs. Customers pay the same energy costs as Central Hudson does.
Q: What is Central Hudson doing to manage these high energy costs?
Central Hudson has taken steps to reduce the impact of higher market prices by hedging energy supply, which means contracting for a portion of energy at fixed prices and purchasing natural gas in the summer when prices are lower and putting it into storage, to be drawn when prices rise. Click here to watch a video on how severe weather can impact utility bills.
Q: What happens if I cannot pay these high bills?
Central Hudson is offering no-cost payment plans. To avoid seasonal variations in energy bills, customers may enroll in the Budget Billing program.
Q: Are there grant programs available to help struggling families?
Payment assistance options, such as the Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP), are available to income-qualified customers. Customers receiving HEAP benefits also qualify for the Bill Discount program.
Q: Do third-party energy suppliers offer lower rates than Central Hudson?
Third party suppliers, referred to as Energy Service Companies (ESCOs), offer customers an option in purchasing of electric and natural gas supply. The rates ESCOs charge can vary, and in some cases may be higher or lower than Central Hudson supply charges. Customers should compare average supply costs when deciding whether to purchase energy supply from and ESCO. Central Hudson posts the 12-month rolling average for electricity and natural gas supply so that customers may make informed decisions. In all cases, Central Hudson continues to provide delivery services.
Q: Are you increasing bills to help pay for damaging storms?
The bill increases are due to higher market supply prices for energy and are unrelated to storm restoration costs.