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What is a Polar Vortex?
The polar vortex is a strong, dense cold front that hovers over the North and South poles.
Sometimes the front gets weaker and splits up before migrating toward the equator.
It's during this time that we see harsh winters.
How does weather affect electricity rates?
With extreme weather comes extreme demand. If your heater is running non-stop, chances are so are everyone elses.
This means demand is much higher than normal. With high demand, older, less cost efficient generators are forced into service to prevent blackouts. This means that the wholesale prices can rise quickly, sometimes hitting ONE HUNDRED TIMES normal levels. Companies that are unprepared for the cold may pass some or all of these costs on to their customers, and usually it is those customers on a variable rate plan who will see the largest increases.
How does weather affect natural gas rates?
Many consumers heat their homes with natural gas, so it makes sense that demand for natural gas increases as furnaces run harder to keep up with the cold. But, there is a double whammy for natural gas, since gas is also used to generate electricity!
What this means is that at the same time customers are using more gas, the electricity plants need more gas as well!
Like electric providers, companies that are unprepared for the cold may pass some or all of these abnormal natural gas costs on to their customers, and again, customers on a variable rate plan typically see the largest increases.
What else can I do to prevent these high bills?
Honestly, conserve as much energy as you can. If everyone conserves during the coldest times, the prices will spike less, and that means less costs to pass on to consumers.