Representing New York's Heating Fuels Industry

Grid Customers See Warmer Weather Bill Hike

20171121-national-grid.jpgTypical National Grid gas customers this month saw a sharp increase in a portion of their bills that allows the company to recoup costs when weather is warmer than projected.

For Long Island customers, the so-called weather normalization adjustment jumped to just over 70 cents a gas unit compared to just over 4 cents a unit in October. (Gas units are measured in "therms.") For customers who used 65 units during the most recent period, that amounted to an increase of $42.90. National Grid noted, however, that the increase would generally accompany lower overall usage, given warmer weather during the period.

The change appears in a line item on bills known as the delivery rate adjustment. For one National Grid customer the charge added $23.40 to his November bill. "Quite a jump," noted Rich Miglietta, a homeowner in Port Washington, who said the increase was a shock. He used 33 therms in the month, lower than the norm. "This blindsided us...our monthly bill was almost triple from what it was the month before although our usage in therms wasn't much different," Miglietta said. National Grid spokeswoman Wendy Ladd said the line item on the bill also can appear as a credit when the weather is colder, moderating what could be larger bill increases.

The intent of the normalization charge is to "provide price protection cost control to customers in periods of colder-than-normal temperatures and to provide revenue protection to the company in periods of warmer than normal temperatures," she wrote. "For bill periods that are colder than normal, a credit will be applied to the bill."

Ladd of National Grid noted that warmer weather, while hiking the normalization charge in winter, generally translates to lower usage, meaning customers should see a reduction in the supply portion of bills.

All National Grid's heating customers will see the weather-related increase (the company has more than 500,000 customers on Long Island), though "the actual rate will be different for each customer depending on the period each customers' bill cycle covers."

After contacting National Grid, Miglietta said he was "assured that next month's bill would go back down to 'normal' levels and that any refunds that might be coming as a result of lesser delivery rate adjustment charges would be credited in May."

The increase comes as National Grid prepares for the second phase of a three-year rate increase in January, along with higher gas costs that it projected will hike bills around 10 percent this winter. For average homeowners, the 10 percent increase translates to around $17 a month. For businesses and bigger residential users, the amount could be much larger. Ladd said the 10 percent includes the weather charge.

(Mark Harrington, Newsday, 11/17/2017)