Each weekday morning, the energy supply team at Westfield Gas + Electric (WG+E) meets to analyze energy supply and pricing issues and how these will impact rates and customers in the coming days. The current high costs have been created by several factors including weather, supply, and geopolitical issues. WG+E is cautioning customers once again that they should expect significantly higher costs and encouraging them to take steps now to protect their household budget.
Spring has been slow to arrive across North America so demand for natural gas and liquified natural gas (LNG) for heating has remained high. Because of this, replenishment of natural gas storage in the United States is behind schedule and below historical averages which pushes future costs up. Even with WG+E’s careful planning, current pricing will increase our costs to serve customers this coming winter substantially.
At the same time, persistent supply issues over the last two years and fallout from the war in Ukraine will combine to have a global impact. US pipeline capacity is constrained making it a challenge to get natural gas where it needs to be. If Russia decides to stop supplying natural gas to European countries, there will be an additional demand for already limited supplies. Demand and cost are both expected to rise.
As a community-owned utility, reliability is a top priority. At their daily meeting, the energy supply team makes careful choices and locks in advance pricing to keep prices as low as possible. Current wholesale pricing is the highest it has been in the last 14 years. WG+E has made gradual increases to natural gas and electric charges over the last year to reduce spikes in customer’s bills but there is no denying that everyone has and will continue to feel the impact of the current situation. We expect to see higher prices affecting natural gas and electric rates through the rest of 2022 and into 2023.
While the WG+E team works on stabilizing rates, there are steps that customers can take to reduce the impact of higher costs in their wallet. Customers with budget billing may want to consider adjusting their budgeted amount to make sure they can cover costs this winter. We will also connect qualified customers to other agencies which can provide financial support. Customers who are interested in setting up budget billing should call the office after they receive their August bill. WG+E’s Customer Service group will be happy to assist with these options and review your account at 413-572-0100.
The warmer weather is a great time to take advantage of energy efficiency benefits and rebates offered by WG+E at wgeld.org under Residential > Ways to Save
· Energy efficient water heaters, heat pumps, appliances, and pool pumps can all reduce your overall use and bills.
· Schedule a FREE home energy audit at 1-866-403-7960 for custom tips for saving at your home.
· Even the little things count—turn off lights and TVs when you leave the room.
· Install programmable thermostats and set them to a moderate temperature.
· Insulate doors and windows while you’re working on home improvements this spring.
Finally, a reminder that during challenging times, scammers and other bad actors often see opportunity. They become more savvy each day and the caller ID may even indicate “Westfield Gas + Electric” even when it is not. Remember that WG+E representatives will never call and ask for your personal information or demand payment over the phone or by gift card to avoid shut off. If you are ever in doubt, hang up and call WG+E at 413-572-0100.