Westfield electric users warned of rising rates

WESTFIELD – Residents who receive lower electric rates from the village of Westfield will need to dig a little deeper into their pockets.

Vincent E. Luce, the administrator and village clerk for Westfield, sent out a news release stating electric rates are much higher this winter. The increase is blamed on the extreme cold conditions this winter.

The full release is as follows:

“The price of electricity in January 2014 soared to near all-time highs due to the extreme and extended cold weather conditions. Natural Gas prices increased 20 times their rate in early December 2013. Because natural gas fuels most of the generators which provide electric power, these below normal temps and their increased duration will have a significant impact on your electric bills.

“As a means for comparison, our December 2013 purchase power adjustment bill was approximately $148,000. This is the power needed in excess of our normal “Hydro” allotment, which has a premium attached to it. Our normal hydro rate is .037 cents per kWh. Our purchase power adjustment (PPA) or supplemental rate in past winters was an additional maximum .026 cents per kWh but this price varies. Our estimated January 2014 bill will have increased almost 31 percent in one month to a whopping $480,000. Preliminary estimates show our combined rate for March at upwards of .087cents per kWh. Before the impending PPA spike, a bill for a home using 3000 kilowatt hours would be approximately $189 for that month (.037 plus .026 or .062 cents per kWh). Now, that same home may face a bill of approximately $261 [.037 plus .050 (actual March PPA rate) or .087 cents per kWh].

“We wanted you to be aware of this and although we have no ability to eliminate the charges, as a community, we can all assist in keeping this “PPA” rate down. Utilize programmable thermostats which allow you to automatically turn your electric down during the day or at night. Turn off lights whenever possible. Use CFL or compact fluorescent light bulbs. Dress warmer instead of raising the thermostat even a couple of degrees. Energy conservation starts with each and every one of us in our homes and businesses.

“Our sources tell us that we are not alone with these conditions; the midwest and the whole northeast have been impacted as well.

“While we understand that our electric bills are shocking, it would have been much worse. Luckily, our joint action agency (where Westfield and several other municipal electric systems purchase their supplemental power), was pro-active in securing some lower pricing. This saved the municipal members of New York about 39 percent or close to $7 million.

“Natural gas prices lowered during the first week of February so as spring nears hopefully all of our bills will begin to return to more normal levels.

“For questions, please contact the village offices at 326-4961.”