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January 15, 2014

Power bills skyrocket

REASON: Natural gas, polar vortex blamed for rate hike.

ELIZABETHTOWN — The controversy over a big increase in National Grid bills this month sparked outrage Tuesday from some Essex County lawmakers.

Electricity prices jumped 50 percent or higher last month statewide, the hike blamed on cold weather and increased demand for natural gas.

Many National Grid customers got their bills at the end of last week, fueling protests to their elected officials.

MOBBED BY RESIDENTS

Supervisor Daniel Connell (D-Westport) said he was leaving the Westport Town Hall after a meeting Monday night when citizens began asking about National Grid bills.

“When the meeting was over, I couldn’t get out the door,” he said at Tuesday’s Essex County Board of Supervisors meeting. “People were all around me, telling me there was a mistake, their power bills doubled.

“I said it was no mistake; the price has gone up. This is an increase people can’t afford.”

The Town of Westport gets bills for 12 electric accounts, and some of them didn’t just double, they quadrupled, he said.

‘DEVASTATING’

Supervisor Thomas Scozzafava (R-Moriah) said his constituents had been calling him about their power bills since last week.

“It’s devastating to many people, especially senior citizens. There’s got to be some more control. You can’t just have these increases out of nowhere.”

Scozzafava called for the State Public Service Commission to investigate the increases and said he’d be calling State Sen. Betty Little (R-Queensbury) and Assemblyman Dan Stec (R-Queensbury).

“This is just crazy,” he said.

Scozzafava said he called National Grid and was told the utility has no control over the price of power.

“It’s a commodity issue. It’s where they buy the power. There’s a lot of people angry.”

NONPROFIT IN CHARGE

Utility companies buy the power from the New York Independent System Operator, the North Greenbush not-for-profit entity that supervises the state’s electrical market.

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