Orange & Rockland Offering Assistance As Energy Market Prices Surge
Company Reminds Customers of Payment Options, Budget Billing, Energy Saving Tips, Energy Efficiency Programs
Orange & Rockland (O&R) is urging customers to take actions now that can help them manage costs this winter as market prices for electricity and natural gas are expected to be substantially higher.
Though summer is still winding down, Orange & Rockland, recognizing the hardship high bills can impose, is letting customers know what they can expect for energy costs in the winter of 2022-23 and steps they can take to soften the impact.
The company offers tips for lowering your energy bill and a number of payment plans and assistance, including budget billing, which smooths customers’ costs out throughout the year. The company encourages customers to check out its energy efficiency incentives for upgrades customers make to their homes.
Utility companies and customers across the Northeast are facing similar circumstances. The increases in customers’ bills are mainly due to increases in the market cost of natural gas, which is volatile and influences electric market costs.
The company currently projects that its average residential natural gas heating customer using an average of 158 ccfs per month will pay $337 a month from November 2022 to March 2023, 44 percent more than the average bill of $234 a year earlier.
Orange & Rockland buys natural gas and electricity on the wholesale markets and uses a variety of strategies to stabilize pricing for customers. The company does not set supply costs and does not make a profit on the supply.
Higher natural gas prices also affect the cost of electricity since power generation plants in the region run mainly on natural gas.
A typical O&R residential customer using 600 kWh a month this winter will pay about $174, a 28.8 percent increase over last winter’s $135 based on current projections.
The best strategy for Orange & Rockland’s approximately 241,000 NY energy customers is to carefully manage their usage.
Customers can save money on energy by using these tips:
- Set your thermostat at the lowest temperature at which you are comfortable and safe. Whether you are using a gas furnace or an electric heat pump, each degree lower decreases heating costs.
- Make sure heating vents are not blocked by furniture, carpeting or anything else that could obstruct the flow of heat.
- Have a qualified contractor clean and inspect your heating system.
- Insulate hot-water pipes and warm-air ducts that pass through unheated areas. Clean or replace filters for your hot-air furnace and heat-pump.
- Swap out window shades seasonally. Light-colored window coverings reflect the sun's energy, while darker ones absorb it and release heat.
- Replace conventional light bulbs with LED bulbs, which are up to 10 times more efficient and are widely available and affordable.
The company offers help for customers who are struggling with their bills. Orange & Rockland can put customers on payment plans and assistance, so that they can pay off balances over time, rather than all at once.
Orange & Rockland also is implementing the New York State Electric and Gas Bill Relief Program, which the company helped design and propose. Under that program, residential customers who receive qualifying government assistance will receive a bill credit on their past-due balance for service through May 1, 2022.
If you are enrolled in Orange & Rockland’s Energy Affordability Program or received Emergency Rental Assistance Program or Home Energy Assistance Program-Regular Arrears Supplement benefits, your bill credit will be processed automatically, and you do not need to take any action. In addition, your service will not be suspended for non-payment while your bill credit is being processed.
Customers who receive benefits from certain government programs may qualify for discounts on their monthly energy bills. Orange & Rockland offers information on these and other payment plans and assistance it has available for customers.
The company’s information campaign to keep customers informed about winter bills will include press outreach, e-mails, bill inserts, social media postings, conversations with elected officials and other communications.
Orange & Rockland also notes that energy costs are changing quickly with significant shifts daily. The company will continue to refine its winter pricing forecast. Natural gas supplies are expected to remain tight this winter, and any disruptions from interstate gas transmission providers could further constrain supplies. O&R remains vigilant in its monitoring of operational conditions.
About Orange & Rockland
Orange and Rockland Utilities, Inc. (O&R), also a subsidiary of Consolidated Edison, Inc., is a regulated utility. O&R provides electric service to approximately 300,000 customers in southeastern New York State (where its franchise name is Orange & Rockland) and northern New Jersey (where it’s Rockland Electric Company) and natural gas service to approximately 130,000 customers in New York.
Energy Prices Are Rising Across the U.S.; Here’s a Guide on How Customers Can Manage Their Winter Bills
- Go energy efficient. Upgrade your lights, thermostats, and other appliances through our rebates, incentives, and tax credits exclusive to our customers.
- Manage your use. Register for My Account and log in via ORU.com or our mobile app for an in-depth look at your hourly energy use.
- Get customized tips. Estimate your energy usage can give you personalized tips and suggestions to help you improve efficiency and control costs this fall – and all year long.
- Spread payments out evenly across the year. A budget billing plan allows you to avoid large month-to-month changes in energy costs.
- Consider a payment agreement. A payment agreement can help you pay down an outstanding balance in manageable, monthly installments.
- Check your benefits. Find information about governmental assistance programs, such as Medicaid or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Customers enrolled in assistance programs may be eligible for discounts on their energy bills through payment plans and assistance.
- Choose your energy supplier. Orange & Rockland does not generate energy. We provide customers their energy at the same wholesale rate that we pay for it and don’t make a profit on supply costs. Customers can research and shop for energy suppliers.