The Bulletin Board

Utilities announce electricity rate increases

By: - June 28, 2021 12:45 pm
An electricity meter on the side of a house.

The commission ruled the price was too high and would place “an enormous burden on New Hampshire ratepayers.” (Dave Cummings | New Hampshire Bulletin)

The Public Utilities Commission has been under fire for its failure to move forward on multiple major pending dockets. Orders have been issued recently addressing one key item, however: increasing electric rates.

For both Eversource and Liberty customers, the cost of electricity will go up on Aug. 1. Unitil’s rate increase went into effect on June 1.

Electric rate increases are standard procedure. Utilities ask the utilities commission if they can charge customers more for electricity, in part to account for inflation. Projects that are deemed “used and useful” can also be included in the rate.

Eversource initiated the docket in April 2021, and the utilities commission approved a 33 percent rate increase last Thursday, raising the current effective rate of 6.627 cents per kilowatt hour to 8.826 cents per kWh.

Liberty’s new rates are slightly lower, at 8.396 cents per kWh, which is about 30 percent higher than that utility’s current rate of 6.426 cents per kWh.

The utilities commission last approved an increase in Eversource’s rates on Jan. 1. But the commission allowed the utility to increase rates only by a fraction of what had been requested: 35 percent less than what Eversource wanted. Before that, temporary rates had been in effect since July 1, 2019.

According to Consumer Advocate Don Kreis, there has been a nine-year gap between the last Eversource rate case and the one that was just approved, “an extraordinarily long period of time,” said Kreis in an email. Four to five years between rate cases is a healthy schedule, Kreis said. 

If utilities file rate cases too frequently, the high cost of the proceedings is passed on to customers. Initiating rate cases too infrequently could mean utilities aren’t passing on the benefits of reducing costs to ratepayers.

A typical household uses about 877 kWh per month, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. For an Eversource customer, that would translate to $77 per month in energy charges under the new rate.

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Amanda Gokee
Amanda Gokee

Amanda Gokee reported on energy and environment for New Hampshire Bulletin. She also previously reported on these issues at VTDigger. Amanda grew up in Vermont and is a graduate of Harvard University. She received her master’s degree in liberal studies, with a concentration in creative writing, from Dartmouth College. Her work has also appeared in the LA Review of Books and the Valley News.