New York City is notorious for being expensive, and electricity costs are no different. But if your utility bills from Con Edison have been higher than usual, you’re not alone. Over the past couple years, Con Ed has been charging New Yorkers more and more for electricity, regardless of their usage.

Here’s the deal about why your Con Edison bill is so high, and what you can do about it.

Brief History of Con Ed Energy Costs in NYC

Across the country, utility rates have been rising. In 2022, consumers across the U.S. paid an average of 14.3% more for electricity compared to 2021. Meanwhile, Con Edison customers saw a 22% increase on their electric bills from the winter of 2021 to the winter of 2022. 

New York City has some of the highest energy prices in the country, with New Yorkers paying an average of 35-40% more for electricity despite being relatively energy efficient.

average con Edison electric bill residential customer
Average residential electric bills in NYC from 2020-2022. Credit: Con Edison

If you pay an electric bill in NYC, we don’t have to tell you that Con Ed’s rates have been increasing for years. In 2021, the average bill for a residential customer was $73.11, and in 2022, it was $84.10. 

The rate hikes over the last few years have been a result of not only volatile market conditions, but also Con Ed’s operating costs being passed on to customers. The costs associated with maintaining electrical infrastructure and with delivering energy to a densely populated area are high, and they continue to grow as the electric grid requires further upgrades.

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How does Con Edison’s billing system work?

To understand why your bill might be higher than usual, it’s important to first understand the two main charges on your bill: supply and delivery.

Con Ed bill supply and delivery charges

Your Supply Charges

The supply charge is the cost Con Ed pays for the energy it transports to you. Neither Con Ed nor the PSC sets these rates, as they’re subject to the energy market as a whole. Con Ed sells energy to you at cost – it’s not legally allowed to profit from the sale of electricity.

In January and February of 2022, many New Yorkers saw a huge increase in their monthly bills. This particular spike was due to a sudden increase in supply charges, not delivery. Around 70% of the electricity used in NYC is powered by natural gas, which has been more expensive for the past couple years due to the pandemic and the war in Ukraine. 

Although it wasn’t all Con Ed’s fault, Governor Kathy Hochul called on the utility to reform its communication and billing practices after the burden of this surge fell on customers who were already financially strained due to the pandemic.

Your Delivery Charges

The delivery charge is the cost of transporting energy into your home and is regulated by the Public Service Commission (PSC). 

Although Con Ed’s not allowed to profit from the supply of electricity, it can raise its delivery rate. Con Ed has been raising its rates for years, and will continue to do so in the future:

  • In 2020, the PSC approved a three-year incremental increase in electric rates totaling 13.5%
  • In February of 2022, Con Ed requested another increase of 11.2% starting in 2023. 
  • In July of 2023, the PSC approved three more increases, beginning with a 9.1% increase in August and followed by two more increases in 2024 and 2025.

The reasoning behind these increases is to cover Con Ed’s capital investments and infrastructure upgrades and invest in clean energy initiatives. 

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Why are energy bills so high right now?

In July 2023, the PSC approved another round of rate increases for Con Ed. Beginning in August, residential customers can expect their electric bills to be 9.1% higher. In January 2024, bills will increase 4.2%, then 1.4% in January 2025.

This bill increase comes at the tail end of the hottest summer on record, while the next one is scheduled for the dead of winter (when energy bills already tend to be high).

Are these soaring electric costs here to stay?

One thing is clear: the cost of electricity is on the rise across the board, and major rate hikes are bound to happen again. The price of natural gas will always rise and fall with supply and demand, and it’s evident that Con Ed has no plans to end its rate hikes. Unfortunately, this won’t be the last time that you’ll be left wondering why your Con Edison bill is so high.

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How can New Yorkers combat high electric bills?

If you feel like electricity costs are out of your control, you’re not alone. The solutions can vary greatly depending on your home and income level. But no matter your situation, there are some things you can consider doing to help offset your energy usage and monthly bills. 

Brooklyn brownstone homes with solar panels
Solar is an excellent way for homeowners to avoid rising Con Ed rates.

1. Invest in Solar Energy

As a solar installation company, we would be remiss not to mention solar energy as a solution to combating electric bills. 

If you’re a homeowner in NYC, installing solar on your roof is the single best way to cut down on your electric bill. Many of our customers’ systems produce enough energy to eliminate their electricity charges altogether, paying Con Ed nothing other than a basic service charge (see below). After your solar panel installation, your energy costs will become more predictable and you’ll be able to avoid sudden rate hikes.

Brooklyn SolarWorks customer's Con Ed bill showing zero electricity charges in June 2023
This is a June 2023 bill from one of our customers in Queens. Despite summer typically being an expensive season for electricity, he did not have to purchase any energy from Con Edison and only paid the $18 service charge.

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But we recognize that not everyone has the ability to invest in rooftop solar. There are other ways to incorporate solar into your life. For example, our friends at Grouphug Solar created a solar panel window charger that’s perfect for that south-facing window in your apartment.

2. Use Energy Efficient Appliances

When it comes to the energy consumption of household appliances, the solution is not always clean cut. Appliances responsible for heating, cooling, refrigeration, hot water heating, and laundry are huge energy users, but they’re also necessities. So what’s the solution?

Investing in energy efficient appliances can make a big difference in your home’s energy usage and therefore, your electricity bill — especially when paired with solar. If you own a home, installing all-electric, efficient appliances like these could make a big impact:

  • Air source heat pump
  • Heat pump water heater
  • Energy Star washing machines and refrigerators
  • Energy efficient lighting, window AC units, fans, and more
One of our customers chose to fully electrify her home in Sunset Park, which included installing an electric hot water heater and heat pump mini-splits for heating and cooling. Her solar canopy has been able to cover all of her energy needs for four years and counting. Learn more!

3. Consider Your Everyday Usage

Regardless of home situation or budget, there’s a lot of little things we can all do to be more conscious of our energy consumption. Here’s a few small ways you can make a difference in your usage everyday:

  • Turn off lights and appliances when they’re not in use and when you’re not at home.
  • Be mindful of the temperature you keep your home. According to NYSERDA, each degree above 75°F that you set your air conditioner’s thermostat saves you 3 percent of the energy used to cool your home.
  • Take advantage of insulation and shades to keep your home warm and cold naturally.
  • Run your dishwasher in the morning or evening to avoid adding to electricity demand in the middle of the day.
  • Wash your laundry in cold water, and opt to air dry your garments.

4. Consider a Payment Plan or Financial Assistance

Con Edison offers financial assistance for customers who are unable to pay their bills. Contact Con Ed to learn about the following programs:

  • Level Payment Plans: allow you to spread your payments evenly over the year.
  • Payment Agreement: helps you to pay down your outstanding balance.
  • Energy Affordability Program: you may qualify for a discount on your bills if you receive certain government benefits.
  • Payment Extensions: allows you to extend your payment due date.

Does Con Edison have sustainability initiatives?

Con Edison has been developing sustainability initiatives for several years. In 2021, it committed to 100% clean electricity by 2040. To that end, it has made progress towards the electrification of buildings and transportation, and building out numerous solar and wind projects across the country.

We’re glad that one of NYC’s main utility companies is committing to sustainability goals, as any progress towards clean energy is positive in the long run. But, these initiatives will translate to higher and higher bills from Con Ed for years to come. 

You can avoid the continued volatility of Con Ed bills by installing solar on your home. By investing in your own solar energy system, you’ll be able to take advantage of clean energy right away – no waiting on Con Ed to make its system upgrades, and no unexpected rate hikes in the meantime.

Rooftop solar gives you energy independence. Why pay Con Ed for clean energy in the future, when you could produce it in your own home right now?

If You’ve Been Considering Solar, The Time is Now

The cost of energy in NYC has been on the rise for years, and will continue to grow in the future. If you own a home in NYC, installing solar on your roof will allow you to avoid increasing electric rates for decades to come – just one of the many advantages of solar energy!

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