Electric costs increase again

Fuel prices major factor in 10% increase in utility payments


At a meeting Monday night, the Rockville Centre Village Board of Trustees adopted the Electric Department budget, which raises the rate residents will pay by 10 percent to nearly 13 cents per kilowatt-hour.

Due to the rising costs of fuel and power transmission, the portion of the electric rate that covers those costs is increasing from 4.64 cents per kwh to more than 6 cents, bringing the total projected rate for customers to 12.8 cents per kwh.

The latest increase comes after the Board of Trustees raised rates by just over 11 percent last July, to 11.6 cents per kwh.

Rising prices will be reflected in residents’ electric bills for the 2014 fiscal year, which will average an estimated $1,361. However, Schussheim reports that the village has no intention to increase the base electric rate. He also anticipates that the cost of electricity for residents will still be among the most reasonable on Long Island, markedly lower than LIPA’s average in March of 22.1 cents per kwh. The average residential electric cost for the 2013 fiscal year will not be known until the fiscal year ends on May 31.

“Fuel is currently escalating more rapidly than it has in the past, and the village has no power over it,” Comptroller Michael Schussheim said, confirming that fuel adjustments to the overall electric rate have been increasing minimally each month for the past year. “If our costs for fuel decrease, the prices will decrease, but we don’t anticipate that will happen in the near future.”

The adoption of the increase came after discussions by trustees at a briefing session on May 9. The Electric Department budget was not on that agenda, and there was no indication of a rate increase on the agenda for Monday’s meeting, giving residents no opportunity to weigh in on the increase.

Variations in fuel prices necessitate periodic rate adjustments, which are reviewed by village officials on a monthly basis, Schussheim said. The adjustments are raised and lowered depending on the average cost of fuel for that month.

The new overall electric rate is more than 1 cent per kwh higher than what the New York State Public Service Commission — which regulates all electric, gas, steam, telecommunications and water service — projected when it approved rates last summer.

The water budget, also approved at Monday’s meeting, did not assume any rate increase, and the projected average annual cost for residential water customers for the next fiscal year will remain at approximately $450. However, that could fluctuate depending on summer weather conditions: a summer that is hotter or drier than average will produce higher water costs, and a cool and wet summer will result in lower costs.