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National Grid Offers Expanded Energy Efficiency Programs in Upstate New York to Help Customers Manage Rising Natural Gas Prices

National Grid has added and expanded several energy efficiency programs in upstate New York that can help customers manage the forecast for increased market prices for natural gas this winter heating season, and beyond.

“Natural gas prices are close to historically high levels and customers should expect prices to continue to be volatile,” said Susan M. Crossett, Vice President of Energy Solutions Services in upstate New York for National Grid. “Taking steps to use energy more efficiently is one guaranteed way to reduce costs.”

Current market conditions suggest the cost of natural gas for National Grid customers in upstate New York will be about 11 percent higher than last year. The company cautions that customer bills can also be impacted by weather conditions. If temperatures fall below average levels, customers may use more natural gas. In the end, market prices, a customer’s natural gas usage and weather will determine actual costs.

In September, National Grid received approval from the New York Public Service Commission for five natural gas energy efficiency programs that can help upstate New York customers save energy costs and reduce environmental impact. These programs, together with existing programs through the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority and other energy efficiency measures can assist customers with increased natural gas costs this winter.

Current efficiency programs include incentives for installation of high-efficiency, natural gas space heating and water heating equipment; rebates for specific Energy Star products used to decrease natural gas use; the inclusion of a self-service audit tool at National Grid’s web site to help customers identify ways to improve energy efficiency and have easy access to on-line suppliers of energy efficient products; and a high-efficiency heating and water heating program for commercial customers.

National Grid will continue to work with NYSERDA for services for its low-income customers that include incentives for installing wall and attic insulation, air sealing measures, space heating replacements and water heating system repairs and replacements.

Additional information on these programs will be mailed to all National Grid Upstate New York natural gas customers in October and is currently available at www.thinksmartthinkgreen.com.

At last year’s commodity prices, a typical residential customer who would ordinarily use 867 therms during a normal heating season (November to April) would have paid about $1,063 during the six-month period.  At this winter’s projected commodity prices, the same amount of usage would cost about $1,181.  Actual average usage last year was 791 therms.

Crossett noted that in addition to commodity prices, there are two other components of a customer’s natural gas bill, delivery prices and transportation costs, both of which will remain stable this winter. 

Delivery prices reflect the costs to bring the gas directly to customers, maintain the local gas network and provide emergency response and customer service.  Those costs, directly within National Grid’s control, have been unchanged for heating customers since 1996 and will remain so during the upcoming winter.  Transportation costs, charged to National Grid by others, reflect the cost of moving the gas from where it is produced to National Grid’s local gas network.  Those prices also have been stable the last few years.

National Grid continues to communicate its energy-efficiency messages to customers through bill newsletters, customer meetings, media interviews, web site information, news releases, public meetings and mailings.

 

Steps customers should consider include:

  • Energy Conservation – This would include installing sufficient insulation and weather stripping and having appliances inspected – especially furnaces and water heaters.  It also includes changing furnace filters regularly and considering purchasing a programmable thermostat.
  • Billing Options – National Grid’s budget billing program is a convenient payment plan that helps to spread payments out more evenly across

the year.  This is particularly helpful to individuals on fixed incomes.

  • Applying for special assistance programs – Help is available for customers who have difficulty paying their heating bills. As part of its new energy efficiency programs, National Grid will provide the NYSERDA with over $3 million in incremental funding to expand programs that specifically target income-eligible natural gas customers this winter. The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program provides financial assistance to income-eligible applicants.  Households receiving public assistance, Supplemental Security Income or food stamps are the most likely to be

eligible for LIHEAP.  This federal program opens in November and is available on a first-come, first-served basis to all utility customers.  Customers who believe they may qualify are urged to call the

New York State Office for the Aging in their county or their county Department of Social Services for more information.

  • Replacing aging appliances – Newer natural gas furnaces use

fuel more efficiently.  High-efficiency units may cost more to buy,

but they will save money in the long run, and now with National Grid’s rebate program, are more affordable.

  • Learning about Energy Smart programs – NYSERDA has a

number of New York Energy Smart programs that can help improve

a home’s energy efficiency.  For more information on NYSERDA

programs visit www.getenergysmart.org.

tips, a list of qualified energy services companies and much more,

visit National Grid’s web site.         

National Grid is an international energy delivery company. In the U.S., National Grid delivers electricity to approximately 3.3 million customers in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York and Rhode Island, and manages the electricity network on Long Island under an agreement with the Long Island Power Authority (LIPA). It is the largest distributor of natural gas in the northeastern U.S., serving approximately 3.4 million customers in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York and Rhode Island. National Grid also owns over 4,000 megawatts of contracted electricity generation that provides power to over one million LIPA customers.