Global events and strong demand for energy worldwide continue to place upward pressure on energy prices. Market analysts now predict higher costs will be sustained through much of 2022, particularly in light of events in eastern Europe.
“A confluence of increased economic activity, constrained energy supplies, weather and global factors continue to affect energy prices,” said Charles A. Freni, President and CEO of Central Hudson Gas & Electric Corporation. “This has impacted the prices of electricity and natural gas that Central Hudson delivers to our customers.” To view a video on rising energy prices and bill payment and assistance programs offered by Central Hudson, click here.
Energy supply prices, which are market-based and which Central Hudson does not mark-up nor profit on, have risen. Electricity and natural gas are provided by independent generators and suppliers in the competitive energy marketplace. The prices for other utility bill components, including taxes and delivery charges, are regulated and stable. Utility bills reflect both the price of energy and usage.
For March, the supply price for natural gas is rising 24% as compared to February due to global and domestic factors. Lower average residential gas usage in March may offset some of this cost increase for individual bills, as usage in March historically tended to be lower than in February. However, total bill impacts will vary for individual customers depending on actual weather, their actual energy usage and billing cycle.
Supply prices for electricity continue to be variable, and bills in March will also depend on market prices, weather, individual usage and billing cycles.
Central Hudson utilizes hedging measures to help stabilize natural gas and electric supply costs against fluctuating market prices. These measures include contracting for a portion of energy at fixed prices and purchasing gas at pre-season prices and placing it into storage. For last month’s billing period, these hedging measures are saving customers millions of dollars by reducing the impact of market prices for electricity by approximately 28% and natural gas by 30%. Click here to watch a recent video on how severe weather can impact utility bills.
Locally, other forms of energy are also affected. For example, heating oil and gasoline prices are about 40% higher than one year ago.
“Higher energy costs harm our customers and the communities we serve,” said Freni. “The energy resources produced in the United States now supply both domestic and international needs. We must ensure that state and federal policies allow for the expansion of critical energy infrastructure of all types to ensure robust and diverse energy supplies at stable prices, particularly as we transition to lower carbon resources.”
Energy Efficiency and Billing Programs
Customers can help manage energy costs in various ways, such as implementing energy efficiency measures and manage bill impacts by exploring their billing options.
To avoid seasonal variations in energy bills, Central Hudson customers may enroll in the Budget Billing program. Budget Billing divides a household’s average annual energy bill into 11 even monthly payments, with the 12th month’s payment adjusted up or down to reflect actual usage and market prices. This program makes energy bills more predictable and can help in managing household budgets.
Customers may also wish to investigate fixed rate options for electric and natural gas supply offered by Energy Service Companies. Fixed rate options do not necessarily provide the lowest average annual cost but do serve as protection against market volatility and price spikes.
Payment assistance options are also available to qualifying customers. The federally funded Home Energy Assistant Program (HEAP) grants are now available for income-qualified residents and the new Regular Arrears Supplement program that provides up to $10,000 in utility arrears assistance to eligible households who are unable to pay their unpaid electric and/or gas utility arrears. HEAP grant recipients also qualify for Central Hudson’s Bill Discount program.
Central Hudson’s Clean Energy Marketplace provides a resource for customers to learn about renewable energy options. Customers can save up to 10 percent on their utility bill while also investing in local clean energy projects. Residents and businesses may subscribe by visiting http://CleanEnergyMarket.cenhud.com to purchase a portion of the electricity produced by the project of their choice.
Other programs include Deferred Payment Agreements that help customers catch up by paying a past-due account balance in monthly installments, the Extra Security Plan which offers an extended billing due-date for qualified customers on a fixed income and the Good Neighbor Fund which provides last resort grants for families who have exhausted all other means of assistance, Learn more about Central Hudson’s assistance programs by visiting www.cenhud.com/account-resources/assistance-programs/.
Low-cost and no-cost efficiency measures homeowners can take to help manage energy costs include:
- Insulating ducts and hot water pipes where they run through uninsulated areas, such as crawl spaces, and repairing leaks in the duct system;
- Adding insulation, particularly in the attic;
- Turning down thermostats (each degree saves up to three percent on energy use);
- Keeping radiators and heating ducts clear of furniture to allow heat to circulate freely; and/or
- Sealing air leaks with weather stripping and caulk, which can save up to 10 percent on the use of heating fuels.
Central Hudson offers energy efficiency incentives for homes and businesses, including rebates of up to $1,000 on new, high-efficiency natural gas home heating systems, up to $1,600 on electric heat pump systems, $250 on indirect natural gas water heaters and up to $1,000 on high efficiency heat pump water heaters. A complete description of Central Hudson’s rebates and programs is available at www.CentralHudson.com and clicking on “Save.”
Discounted energy efficiency products with instant savings for Central Hudson customers are available at local participating retailers. Available items include LED bulbs, smart thermostats, advanced power strips, water-saving products and more. For a list of participating retailers visit www.CentralHudson.com, click on the “Save” link at the top of the page, then click on “Residential Incentives.”
Customers can contact Central Hudson in a variety of ways, including logging on to http://www.cenhud.com/customer-service/contact-us/ and selecting their preferred form of communication, or by clicking on the green “Chat” tab on the right hand side of the page.
Visit www.CentralHudson.com for more information on winter safety, efficiency incentives, energy saving tips and billing options.
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