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New York tops list in electricity costs

By: Matt Porter |

New Yorkers pay, on average, the most for electricity in all states except Hawaii according to the most recently released data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

The New York average for March 2013 came in at 18.26 cents per kilowatt-hour, while the national average is 11.59 cents.

However, in the village of Endicott, some residents are paying just a fraction of the state average.

In Endicott’s “Light District,” a one square mile area in the western part of the village, residents pay at most 6.5 cents per kilowatt-hour.

Mary Anne Bass has lived in Endicott’s light district for 26 years.

She said the most she has paid for her four-bedroom home in electricity for one month was $90.

“The fact that we can run as much as we can with that little amount is huge,” Bass said, “It makes a huge difference.”

A big difference for her pocketbook, she estimates saving up to $200 a month, compared to her neighbors’ rates using NYSEG.

The village of Endicott has a 25-year contract for its energy.

The contract is negotiated with electric providers and servicers by the Municipal Electric Utilities Association of New York State.

MEUA represents 40 different towns across the state who manage their own electric supply.

Endicott Deputy Mayor Dave Baker said the situation allows the village to control rising costs.

“Since we don’t have a lot of the overhead costs of a for-profit corporation,” Baker said, “We can offer our product at a lower rate.”

The municipality signs a contract where they are allotted a particular amount of energy each month at a fixed cost regardless of other fees.

If the municipality goes over its contracted amount, it then has to request additional electricity.

That cost is not protected from transmission and other fees.

The village divides it equally among the 3,200 accounts in the district, and adds it as part of the bill.

To avoid this incremental cost, the village has offered a discounted rate to consumers who use less electricity.

It’s part of a three-tiered system with rates that increase with consumption.

People who use less than 1000 kilowatt-hours a month have a rate of 4.32 cents per kilowatt-hour.

That’s less than a quarter of the statewide average.

“We thought that was a little unfair, especially for people who were at the low end of the (scale) having to pay the same as people using more power,” Baker said.

Even people in the higher tier rates still pay less than half the state average.

Endicott also provides free energy efficient light bulbs and other energy-saving help to its customers.

Baker said for-profit companies don’t have the same urgency to promote conservation.

“If everybody conserved energy and we all wound up using less energy, NYSEG has to raise the rates to compensate for the loss in revenue,” he said. “That’s business.”

The only business for the more than 40 municipalities with power contracts is to keep the lights on at the lowest cost.

Officials from NYSEG were not available for an interview for this story.