Customers upset about spike in electric bills

SYRACUSE (WSYR-TV) - Hundreds of NYSEG customers are taking to social media to complain about a sudden spike in electric bills.

The increase was noticed for statements billing for late December and early January.

The Your Stories Team reached out to NYSEG, which says it's not their choice and it's happening to customers from other companies too.

NYSEG, RG&E and National Grid are energy delivery services - they get power to your home. They buy it from producers, which use natural gas to make it. 

The prolonged cold at the beginning of January increased demand for natural gas, both by power plants and people who use it to heat their homes. That caused the natural gas prices to shoot up.

NYSEG and National Grid say they pass along that cost to the customer, but don't make a penny extra themselves.

David Flanagan, of the New York Independent System Operator, tells NewsChannel 9:

The primary driver of higher wholesale electricity prices in early January was an increase in the cost of natural gas.  Since NYS relies heavily on natural gas as a fuel to generate electricity, wholesale electricity prices are very sensitive to the price of natural gas.
In the winter, retail residential, commercial and industrial gas customers served by local utilities have priority on the pipeline system to meet heating and commercial needs.  That retail customer demand competes with the demand for gas as a fuel for power plants. 
During extreme cold weather the higher demand for gas from both retail customers and power plants can result in higher prices in the gas and electricity markets.  This increase in the market cost of natural gas in the winter months is not unusual, with the markets experiencing price increases in January 2011, 2013 and the 2014 Polar Vortex.

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