Electricity customers in Massachusetts could face a sharp rise in their winter bills, National Grid warned Wednesday.
The utility estimated that as of Nov. 1, the typical residential electric customer will see a 64% increase in their monthly bill, from $179 last winter to $293 this year.
The price hike is due to the “significantly higher” cost of the natural gas used to generate electricity, according to National Grid. The company pointed to global conflict, inflation and high demand as factors driving up natural gas prices.
Natural gas customers are also looking at seasonal rate adjustments. National Grid said it is pending a proposal with the Department of Public Utilities that would increase the monthly bill of the average Boston Gas residential customer by $50 or 22%, and the average Colonial Gas residential customer’s bill by $ 47 – an increase of 24%.Read:DocuSign names former Google executive Allan Thygesen as new CEO
Eversource similarly announced an increase in its proposed gas tariffs, also slated for Nov. 1. Residential customers in the former NSTAR Gas area expect an increase of $86, or about 38%, and customers in the former Columbia Gas area will see an increase of $61, or about 25%.
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“We know winter isn’t far away, so we’re encouraging our customers and making it easier for our customers to take action now and let them know we’re here to help,” said Helen Burt, Chief Customer Officer of National Grid, in the Wednesday. release.
To that end, the company launched the Winter Customer Savings Initiative, which aims to help customers reduce their energy consumption and save money, better manage their bills and secure available energy assistance, the release said.Read:New China ETFs test investor appetite amid Sino-U.S. tech war, market rout
“We are committed to helping our customers in the coming months through our Winter Customer Savings Initiative, while maintaining a high level of service to meet their energy needs this winter season,” said Burt.
Time for a change?
“People are struggling to make ends meet and this is going to make the colder months tough,” Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey tweeted Wednesday. “We are doing everything we can to help residents and we need long-term solutions so that consumers never see these kinds of tariffs again.”
In a statement, Healey spokeswoman Chloe Gotsis said the AG’s office is exploring all possible options to ease the burden.
For example, Healey’s office noted that it saved customers more than $400 million by challenging National Grid’s proposed distribution tariffs in 2018. The next distribution tariff case won’t come before the Department of Public Utilities until next year, after Healey — the Democratic nominee for governor — leaves office.
“National Grid’s rate hike will be devastating to hundreds of thousands of Massachusetts customers who simply can’t afford it,” Gotsis said. “We are urging the DPU to find ways to reduce the impact on utility bills and find long-term solutions to prevent customers from ever seeing these types of rates again.”Read:Tesla recalls nearly 1.1 million U.S. vehicles to update window reversing software
Burt also suggested it might be time for a change.
“National Grid buys electricity on behalf of its customers from the wholesale power market through a regulatory approved process established 20 years ago,” she said. “That process has served customers well over the years and provides flexibility for unforeseen events, such as limited supplier response to requests. But things have fundamentally changed.”
In today’s ongoing high market price environment, maintaining affordable prices is a challenge, Burt said.
“Given that, we believe it is a good time to work with our regulators and other stakeholders to review process and power supply dynamics in the region, with a view to reducing price volatility and maintaining a safe, reliable and resilient energy system for the future,” she said.
On its website, National Grid offers a number of energy saving tips, including:
- Using smart power strips to control the amount of energy electronics use, or disconnecting electronics and chargers that are not in use;
- Set refrigerator temperatures to 38°F;
- Keep furniture away from vents, as blocked vents can require up to 25% more energy to distribute air;
- Using programmable thermostats to adjust heating and cooling in empty rooms;
- And checking the insulation of ceilings, roofs, exterior walls and cavity walls.
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