MANHATTAN – Homeowners and renters on the Upper East Side were stunned last week, shocked to find suddenly sky high electric bills from Con Edison. From Yorkville to Carnegie Hill and Lenox Hill, the story is the same— utility bills doubling or even tripling in January after a seemingly normal invoice in December. Much larger than just a neighborhood problem, the issue apparently extends across New York City.
“Nothing has changed in my habits,” Lara Merida told Upper East Site, “if anything I use less electricity now because I’m back in the office.”
“So I thought it was a mistake,” she added.
Dozens of Upper East Siders shared the same story– their normally small, winter month invoice from Con Edison had exploded into a serious financial burden— higher than most said they even saw during July and August, when air conditioners are pumping most of the day.
“I was like this can’t be serious. It’s usually half that,” Jen Antretter told us.
“I don’t even think I got such a high bill in the dead heat of summer,” she added.
Some neighbors were confused by the giant size bills— others were embarrassed, believing they had somehow become an energy hog.
“I thought it was me. I was mortified,” said Steve Marrandino.
“I was at like $90-100 [a month] and then last month came in $295 and I was shocked,” Steve added.
Con Edison didn’t immediately respond to an inquiry by Upper East Site, but it appears that the extremely high utility bills aren’t unique to the UES. It’s happening across New York City and is the result of a sharp increase in the cost of the electric supply— which the company is passing on directly to consumers— some of whom reported seeing the ‘supply’ rate on their bill nearly triple, from six cents to sixteen cents a kilowatt hour.
“Market Supply Price has increased,” a Con Ed representative told a concerned customer on Twitter.
“We do not generate electricity. We do not control the pricing,” the company explained.
“Electricity is purchased on the open market. The price paid for the commodity on the open market is the price passed down to our customers,” the Con Edison rep added.
New father Chris Wilkins added some perspective to the costs of his staggering bill, which jumped from an average of $94 to $370 last month.
“Hard to swallow when you have a 2 week old and trying to keep it comfortable for her,” Wilkins said.
The shockingly large bills hit Upper East Siders and most New Yorkers at the same time Con Edison is asking the state to allow them to hike rates for electric and gas once again.
If approved, customers would see their electric bills swell more than 11%, while gas bills would rise more than 18%, bringing in an additional $1.7 billion for the utility company.
“The proposal to the New York State Public Service Commission would continue unprecedented investments in energy efficiency, renewables, electric vehicles and clean heat,” Con Edison said in a statement, pointing out the increased costs would fund infrastructure improvements as well.
Right now though, neighbors are focused on the staggering bill in front of them already.
“It’s ridiculous how expensive it is,” Alex Lepore told Upper East Site about the nearly thirty percent increase in this month’s invoice.
“I’ve resulted to unplugging things I haven’t been using to try to save some money.”