Cold temperatures will mean higher power rates for local customers

Skaneateles officials discuss rate increase

While a snowy winter means more time and money is spent clearing the roads, an especially cold winter will have a significant impact on home power bills.

Local officials discussed an anticipated rate increase on upcoming power bills at the Feb. 12 village board meeting.

Director of Municipal Operations Bob Lotkowictz reported that he expects a 2 cent increase in cost per kilowatt hour for village residents for February bills. The average rate for the village is $0.046 per kilowatt hour.

The increase is caused by an increase in demand for electricity and natural gas, not only in Skaneateles, but across the state, he said.

“A lot of people are using a lot of electricity,” Lotkowictz said.

Living in a municipal power grid, Skaneateles residents typically pay low rates, because the state gives the village an allotment of inexpensive hydroelectric power from Niagara Falls. However, when the village exceeds that allotment, it must use regular “purchase power,” which is more costly, especially in the winter.

The cold this winter has caused a new state record for peaking load for electricity. The weather coupled with increasing natural gas prices have created near all-time high electricity prices this year, according to a letter to the village from the New York Municipal Power Agency.

Natural gas is what powers most of the purchase power generators in New York, thus raising rates for customers state-wide, including local people who live outside of the village and are customers of National Grid.

The good news is that once the temperatures rise again, the demand will go down and power rates are expected to return to normal, Lotkowictz said.

In other business:

--Mayor Marty Hubbard noted that the village received a low score on a recent report from New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli. “I’m very happy to see the village scored very low, which is good,” Hubbard said.

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