For many residents in northern Westchester county, their New York State Electric and Gas bills have quadrupled, and both lawmakers and residents are out to discover why.
According to an article in the Yonkers Times, Rosalie Meli Cicogna, a resident of Heritage Hills in Somers was stunned when she received her enormous bill, especially after her extensive efforts to make her home more energy-efficient.
“This is an egregious breach of confidence between NYSEG and its customers,” said Cicogna. “We’re led to believe that being energy-conscious will be rewarded. I’ve gone to great lengths to make my home efficient, only to be punished with a sky-high bill.”
Behind the Rates
Westchester County is serviced by Con Edison to the south, and New York State Electric and Gas to the north, and state lawmakers have been communicating with both electric power companies to try to figure out exactly why residents’ bills have risen sharply without warning.
In an open letter to the president of NYSEG, Assemblyman Byrne, along with State Sen. Terrence Murphy asked for the reasoning behind the increased rates, pushing for an explanation of the plan NYSEG has in place to warn consumers of spiking costs, and options for payment plans.
“Hudson Valley taxpayers are strapped with some of the highest energy costs in the nation,” said Senator Murphy.
The Indian Point Problem
There’s another power problem on the table that’s been worrying Westchester residents – what will happen to their already skyrocketing bills when the Indian Point Power Plant closes in 2021?
The closure, which was announced last year, will start in 2020, happening incrementally until the plant’s final shut down in 2021. The news is particularly worrying for many residents as the Indian Point Power Plant provides nearly 25% of New York City and Westchester’s electrical power. Although state Governor Andrew Cuomo has publicly promised that “the state is fully prepared to replace the power generated by the plant at a negligible cost to ratepayers,” many are wary.
Realistically, unprepared residents will probably feel the change. Even Entergy President Bill Mohl, who announced Indian Point’s upcoming closure, made it clear that the company doesn’t currently have a plan to fill the future deficit. “Obviously they’re going to need to add a substantial amount of capacity,” Mohl said.
Yet Dr. Robert Brinkmann, founder of the Sustainability Studies program at Hofstra University, believes that if correctly invested in, the state has more than enough renewable energy sources to fill the power plant’s void. “The state has been quite aggressive with other renewables,” explained Brinkmann. “We have quite a lot of energy coming from hydroelectric plants, and there has been a lot of work to boost other green energy, including wind and solar.”
Investing in solar solutions might be the most viable – and immediate – solution that Westchester homeowners have to combat the rising energy costs in the region.
Even better, the state itself is helping to make clean energy investment possible. Through the new Clean Energy Standard, New York state is offering funding and financing for solar initiatives, along with tax credits for residents who install solar systems in their private residences.
The Clean Energy Standard’s goal is to produce 50% of the state’s energy needs via renewable resources by 2030 while reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 40% in the same timeframe. Besides applying for funding for larger solar or sustainable energy projects, Westchester county residents are eligible for a 30% federal solar tax credit should they choose to install solar panels in 2019. (The credit will continue in subsequent years but at a lower rate.)
Both NYSEG and Con Edison will buy back any additional energy produced by private solar systems at close to retail power prices, allowing customers to credit against their bills during times of the year when their homes are producing less solar energy.
This system, called Net Metering, means that residents who produce an excess of solar energy during, per se, the summer months, will receive credits on their energy bills for months when their solar systems produce less. I.e., if your house produces 500kWh of energy in excess one month but you only use 250kWh, that excess 250kwh will be subtracted from your bill in the subsequent month (or months), saving you money even when you’re not producing as much solar energy.
Going solar is a big decision, and solar is not right for everyone. Having someone who is going to be upfront and honest with you about whether you should install solar power is important. To find out more about solar solutions for your home, get in contact with the experts at New York Power Solutions. New York Power Solutions has helped over 4,000 homes in New York go solar and has installed more LG panels than any solar contractor in New York. NYPS specializes in providing you with as much information as possible so you can take that knowledge and make an informed decision on going solar.