New York defies simple definition. The state is geographically diverse ranging from Long Island, to the Finger Lakes to the Adirondack and Catskill Mountains. The climate varies from hot and humid summers in New York City to long cold winters in Upstate New York. Additionally, the population distribution varies widely from the urban landscape of New York City to the rural areas that dominate most of the state. This diversity of geography, climate, and population combine to give New York a unique and interesting energy profile.
New York produces electricity from a variety of sources. In 2015, natural gas was the fuel source for just over 40% of all electricity generated in the state. Nuclear power accounted for 32% of electric generation that year. New York also benefitted from numerous hydroelectric generation sources. The Robert Moses Niagara generation station is the fourth-largest hydroelectric power plant in the country. Generation from other renewable energy sources like wind and solar is on the rise. No-hydroelectric renewables accounted for almost 5% of New York’s electricity production in 2015.
Even with its extensive and diverse electric generation fleet, New York imports electricity from neighboring states and Canada. This is primarily due to transmission constraints associated with delivering electricity to the New York City region. Trading electricity with ISO New England, PJM Interconnection, and IESO (Ontario) allows New York to maintain power reliability.
Household Energy Use
New York residents use much less electricity than the national average. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, electricity accounts for only 10.6% of the energy used in New York homes. This is significantly lower than the national average of 37.4%.
Heating and cooling are the primary drivers of home energy costs. Therefore, low electricity use results from how New York consumers heat and cool their homes. When it comes to heating, 57% of New York homes use natural gas while another 29% rely on heating oil. Only about 7% of New York residents use electric heating.
Cooling also uses a limited amount of electricity in New York. About 20% of the homes have central air conditioning while another 53% use individual window or room air conditioning units. A fair number of New York homes lack air conditioning of any kind.
With limited amounts of electricity used for heating and cooling, you might expect New York home power bills to be relatively low. However, while usage is below the national average, residential electricity rates are far above average. The average U.S. home electricity rate is 12.58 cents/kwh. New York residents pay an average of 16.89 cents/kWh. These higher rates mean that annual electricity bills in New York are fairly close to the national average.
Shop for Rates
New Yorkers use far less electricity than do their national residential counterparts. While we can take steps to save electricity in our homes, New York residents have a harder time lowering their electricity bill through conservation alone. This means that it is even more important to get a competitive rate. Using the utility rate as a comparison price, they can shop for lower fixed price electricity rates.
The same opportunity applies to natural gas service. With natural gas being the primary heating source for New York homes, it is even more important to make sure you secure a low fixed price gas rate. Take some time to shop for energy rates and understand the terms of the various plans. New York’s unique energy usage profile provides opportunities for savings.