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High utility bills despite some relief | Athol-Thurman

Our fate is in the paws of a groundhog

Every year on Feb. 2 a crowd gathers at Gobblers Knob in Pennsylvania to see if the furry critter known as Punxsutawney Phil will see his shadow leaving us with six more weeks of winter — or not see the shadow, which indicates an early spring. The crowd was left with disappointment this year as the critter indeed did see a distinct shadow and retreated back to his burrow to finish off his winter hibernation.

I only have a couple questions; who is the groundhog “whisperer” Phil conveys his message to — and did the sun come out in Pennsylvania at exactly 7:20 a.m. Feb. 2?

High utility bills despite some relief

Many Thurman residents have phoned me this week reporting their extremely high energy bills – nearly double or triple in some cases the total of prior years. The situation could be a lot worse, according to a statement issued recently by utility provider National Grid.

The press release says “Costs for the electricity supply for upstate New York have increased substantially in the past few months due to colder-than-normal weather conditions and a dramatic rise in the cost of natural gas that fuels many electricity generating stations. These increases, coupled with much higher than typical usage, prompted the company to take action to help stabilize energy costs for its customers.”

The state Public Service Commission, which regulates and sets delivery rates, has authorized National Grid to to provide its customers with a $32 million temporary credit to upstate New Yorkers to help soften the blow of this increase. Without this relief, utility bills could have jumped 20 to 30 percent higher for the month of February, National Grid reported.

If you are having a difficult time paying for heat, the Home Energy Assistance Program offered through Warren County Department of Social Services, also known as HEAP, is still taking applications for assistance.

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