Long Island Electric Bills To Drop In 2011

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    NEWSLETTERS

    NBCDFW.com
    The hot weather is giving power-generation companies a workout.

    You won't save much -- maybe about the cost of a coffee at Starbucks -- but it's a savings, nonetheless.

    "It's welcomed," said Mary Goldstein, owner of the Anthony Peters' hair salon in East Meadow.  Her business' electric bill can run as much as seven hundred dollars in summer.

    Next year, however, it will be less. The Long Island Power Authority has proposed a 2011 budget that would reduce electric rates for the utility's 1.1 million customers.

    "We're seeing a two point two percent reduction in 2011," said LIPA's COO Michael Hervey.

    "That translates into about a three dollar a month cut for the average customer."

    If LIPA's board approves it, customers in 2011 will pay the lowest electric rates in some four years.

    Lower fuel costs, specifically, cheaper natural gas, fueled the overall rate reduction, LIPA officials said.  The utility now uses gas to power most of its generating plants.

    The only blemish for ratepayers - a proposed one point nine percent increase in LIPA's delivery charge- the cost of getting electricity to your home and business.  That increase is blamed on rising property taxes, according to Hervey.

    Without the delivery charge increase, the overall electric rate cut would have been even larger.

    "We do recognize these are tough times and we didn't want to burden our customers," said LIPA board chairman Howard Steinberg.

    "Our mandate was for no increase."

    Thirty million dollars in costs associated with preparing for Hurricane Earl were also not passed onto customers in the form of higher electric rates, LIPA said.  Cash reserves will be used instead to cover those expenses.

    The LIPA board will vote on this proposed budget in December.  Prior to that, customers will get chances to comment at four public hearings in both Nassau and Suffolk counties.

    "Small businesses need a break," said Mary Goldstein.

    "Electric bills are quite steep and cut into our profits.  Small businesses are having a hard time so its nice to get even this small break."