Greenport residents should ‘expect volatility’ in coming electric bills

Cyndi Murray | The village power plant on Moores Lane.
Cyndi Murray | The village power plant on Moores Lane.

Greenport Village electric customers will continue to see their bills fluctuate moving forward, according to a notice posted on the village’s website Thursday morning.

On one hand, the notice describes a “billing error” that will be corrected and help lower bills in February.

On the other hand, it refers to January’s cold weather, which “has led to very high prices.”

“We want you to be aware that we expect continued volatility in purchase power costs,” the notice reads.

Village Trustee George Hubbard, who also serves as deputy mayor, said the billing error occurred because the village mistakenly calculated costs related to a 28-month contract the village entered with the New York Power Authority in 2013. (Unlike most of Long Island, Greenport residents do not get their energy through PSEG.)

“The PPA (Power Purchase Adjustment) charge was supposed to be drawn out over a 28-month period, but it was being done over a period of 12 months,” Mr. Hubbard said.

So now the village is “making a downward adjustment,” the notice reads.

As for the pricier cost of purchasing power, the letter reads: “Please know that the operations of the village’s electric department have not changed, and the base rates are remaining the same. What has changed is the cost of your purchased power, due to the state’s deregulated market for electricity.”

Residents are urged to contact the utility billing department for a detailed explanation of their bills.

In August, village electric customers were informed they would be paying between $7.75 and $10.69 more in the Purchased Power Adjustment line of their bills per month moving forward.

The additional charges, Mayor David Nyce said at that time, were needed to cover a hike in the village’s then-recently signed long-term transmission agreement with NYPA, which transmits hydropower generated in Niagara Falls to Greenport.

But the mayor also said the 28-month agreement with NYPA would serve to stabilize rates for the foreseeable future.

Now, that seems not to be the case.

The mayor could not be reached for comment Thursday.

“There are a lot of ups and downs going on with [electric costs] but our [rates] are supposed to be stable,” Mr. Hubbard said Thursday. “If there is something else going on, I haven’t read about it or heard about it yet.”

But, he said, electric customers could see their bills lowered as a result of the discovery.

This is not the first time a village error led to jumps in electric bills.

Last week it came to light that one-time charges residents saw on December’s bills were imposed on customers so the village could recoup a $108,000 penalty it had incurred for missing a generator test.

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