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What you need to know for 04/29/2017

National Grid predicts smaller gas bills for winter

National Grid predicts smaller gas bills for winter

National Grid announced Monday that natural gas customers will see about a 9 percent reduction in th

National Grid announced Monday that natural gas customers will see about a 9 percent reduction in their total natural gas bill over the course of the heating season, based on typical usage.

For the average customer who would ordinarily use about 711 therms during the winter, the total cost will be about $581 — $62 less than last year — according to William Flaherty, regional executive for National Grid.

The price of natural gas has been steadily inching downward over time. During the past five years, the typical residential customer’s bill has dropped 35 percent, Flaherty said.

Heating oil prices have also taken a dip this year, according to Jim Buhrmaster, president of Buhrmaster Energy Group in Scotia.

Most customers lock in a set price for the heating season. This year, he said that price is averaging $3.69 a gallon — 20 cents less than last year.

The price of oil fluctuates according to what’s going on in the Middle East, but there is plenty of oil available, including much being mined in places other than the Mideast, so that helps to keep the price less volatile, Buhrmaster noted.

A winter price forecast for propane is not available, according to Mollie O’Dell, spokeswoman for the National Propane Gas Association, so there’s no word on what residents of the 200,000-plus New York state homes heated by propane should expect when they open their heating bills.

From Oct. 1, 2012 to Sept. 23, 2013, propane prices fluctuated from a low of $2.81 a gallon on Oct. 22, 2012, to a high of $3.17 on March 25 of this year, according to the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority’s New York Home Propane Price Monitoring Program.

According to NYSERDA’s website, residential propane prices were last surveyed Sept. 23, when they averaged $2.97 a gallon.

National Grid customers in the market for new heating equipment can benefit from rebates on high efficiency products, and those rebates have now been doubled, according to Laurie Poltynski, National Grid’s commercial leader for upstate New York.

A $36 rebate is being offered for a programmable Energy Star thermostat, $140 for boiler reset controls, $420 for high efficiency water heating equipment and between $840 and $1,120 for high efficiency furnaces and boilers, she said.

Those who still struggle to pay their heating bills despite lower fuel prices and rebates may be eligible to participate in the Home Energy Assistance Program, which opens Nov. 18. The federally-funded program provides low-income households with a lump-sum heating benefit to supplement annual energy costs. The program also provides a one-time emergency assistance benefit and helps with furnace repairs and replacements.

For more information about the HEAP program, visit http://otda.ny.gov/programs/heap/.

Income-eligible people can also apply to participate in NYSERDA’s EmPower New York Program, which provides free energy efficiency upgrades.

For more information, visit www.nyserda.ny.gov.

Reach Gazette reporter Kelly de la Rocha at 395-3040 or kdelarocha@dailygazette.net.

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