Customers shocked by high electricity bills


By Joe Moskowitz
If you’ve looked at your electric bill lately, it’s probably been a shocking experience. In the past several months, the cost of keeping your lights on has probably doubled, or tripled, and in some cases it’s even more.
Uta Gundelach owns the Arkville Laundromat. She told the News this week that her normal monthly electric bill is about $250, but within the past two months, it has ballooned to nearly $900 a month.
She told the News that her electric bill, and the higher cost for propane for heating and running the dryers and heating water, has turned her laundromat into “a very expensive hobby.” And to make matters worse, she said the extremely cold winter has kept people at home, so business is down and less money is coming in to pay the dramatically higher bills.
And the bigger the building, the bigger the bill. Margaretville Central School paid about five and-a-half cents per kilowatt hour for electricity from December 3 until January 2. District Treasurer Karen Dietrich said the school paid $1,901.22 for electricity that month. The next month, the kilowatt hour rate went up to nearly 13 cents, and the bill went up by more than $3,000 to $4,920.88. And, that bill doesn’t include the school’s bus garage.
Whether consumers buy electricity from NYSEG or Central Hudson, that utility may just provide a line into the home or business. Consumers have a choice of who provides the actual electricity. In January, MCS purchased its electricity from National Grid. A National Grid spokesperson told the News Monday that the dramatic increase in the cost of electricity is directly due to the rising cost of natural gas. Natural gas is used to generate most of the electricity in the Northeast. The cold winter resulted in several records for  natural gas usage being shattered. That made gas prices shoot up and the electric companies, even though they may also be the gas companies, passed the increased cost on to their customers.
The cold weather and short daylight hours also meant people were using more electricity, and customers didn’t know it was so expensive until they got their bills.
Gundelach said she is switching to Ambit, a company that claims to discount the cost of electricity. Andy Nappi of Arkville is an Ambit representative. He said their prices are lower, but he also said even Ambit’s prices went way up.