Utility rates set to increase 11% for 6 months to collect for excessive costs from the record cold of January 2014
So January’s 2014 price impacts are beginning to be tallied by utilities and as expected, they are “significant”. The utilities faced the same circumstances as the energy marketer; the coldest weather in 20 years put unexpected demand pressure on natural gas and electricity pricing. The short-term impact caused significant costs to utilities, energy marketers, and every utility customer.
The following article specifies the issues that utilities must balance in order to recover costs when they have a customer choice program. Each utility must balance the fact they under-collected during a past period, while at the same time they know that raising rates will offer more incentive for customers to switch to energy marketers that offer lower rates or alternative services.
Seems like a catch 22 but is it? The question is not whether the utility will recover its cost (and the interest on carrying it), but rather who should pay it. The utility rightfully recognizes that customers are price sensitive and will look for alternatives when prices rise. When customers see the rate increase they may choose an energy marketer’s offer that has already collected those costs. Therefore, the utility will collect their uncollected costs from those fewer customers who remain with the utility. Rest assured, eventually they will recover these costs.
Realgy has the capability to know our costs for energy at the end of each month. This lets us effectively mitigate the expenses as they are incurring and recover only the costs for operational-flow orders, congestion, and settlement costs (costs imposed by utility practices) immediately. While this might be a rate shock for everyone, it eliminates any future “uncollected” costs that must eventually be recovered.
Realgy is working hard to continue to reduce the impacts of this cold weather affecting our customer energy costs. Winter won’t be over until the Blue Birds are singing!
Check out the Energy Choice Matters article: “SHOCK: Pennsylvania Utility Seeks Nonbypassable Charge to Recover Excessive Default Service Costs from January (Change from Quarterly to Annual Reconciliation Backfires)”