Some communities shocked by high electric bills

SPRINGVILLE, N.Y. (WIVB) – Communities that supply their own electricity are in a bind. Though their rates are usually super low, when rates for their statewide supplier spiked, they were forced to pass that increase on to their customers, many of whom are nearly passing out at the sight of their monthly bill.

The brutal winter has taken its toll on Julie’s Pizza in Springville but the prolonged deep freeze is also causing some belt-tightening because of higher electric bills – much higher. Owner Phil Collesano showed News 4 his latest bill with a “power adjustment” tacked on, for $582.

“It’s something you have to absorb. Mother Nature has a lot to do with that. It’s been that kind of winter,” he said.

And Julie’s doesn’t even hear with electricity. The restaurant heats with gas. Why this spike on the electric bill?

The Village of Springville supplies its own electricity for local homes and business, as do 45 other municipalities across the state including Jamestown, Little Valley, and Salamanca. The municipalities get most of their electricity from Niagara Falls, at low rates.

Springville Public Works Superintendent Karl Lux said, “It covers about three-quarters of our needs for electricity. So about 75 percent of the power that we get at a really discounted rate, it’s from the Power Authority.”

But when the municipalities use up their allotment, they have to go to the open market, and that’s when it can get expensive. Will the bills go even higher?

“I don’t think the impact will be as great on the next billing as it was in January where everybody was just sitting there spinning in some cases and all of a sudden they needed the power,” Lux said.

So for customers, like Julie’s, the spike in electric rates this winter are balanced by the lower rates the rest of the year.

Collesano said, “As low as they get in the whole country. We’re quite spoiled here.”

Each town that supplies electricity has its own arrangement with the state. The City of Salamanca, for instance, has even higher winter electric bills.

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