National Grid announced on September 15 that, this winter, residential ratepayers in Massachusetts will receive bills that average 21 percent higher than those they see throughout the rest of the year.
The good news – if you’re the type that sees the glass half full – is that this year’s winter rates still will be 9 percent lower than the charges customers were burdened with in 2014.
When the utility’s filing is approved by the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities (DPU), the typical homeowner will receive a bill inflated to about $110 a month – up from the usual $90. That still offers customers some relief from last year, when the monthly bottom line was about $121.
“National Grid remains concerned about volatile and unpredictable electricity supply prices our customers are subject to,” said Marcy Reed, president of National Grid–Massachusetts. “We urge Massachusetts residents to take full advantage of energy efficiency tips and other solutions, such as payment programs, that can help stabilize their bills.”
National Grid delivers electricity to the homes and businesses of about 1.3 million customers in Massachusetts. The new electric supply prices will be in effect from November through April.
The section of the electric bill where customers will see the difference is called “Supply Services.” The utility claims that another part of the bill, “Delivery Services,” has not been updated since 2010 – and that “these rates are currently based on the 2008 cost of doing business.” If that’s the case, it soon will be old news: National Grid is preparing a proposal to update its electric distribution rates for submission to the DPU later this year. The proposal will undergo a thorough review process; any changes to distribution rates would likely not take effect until later 2016, the utility said.
Finally, the state’s other major utility, Eversource Energy – which raised charges by 30 percent last winter – will file its winter rates this fall.
New England’s wholesale power markets have been volatile in recent years, largely because of uncertainty about natural gas supplies, which are used to generate more than half the electricity in the Bay State. Two years ago, a scarcity of natural gas that was attributed to insufficient pipeline capacity sent prices skyrocketing.
“This is all crystal ball stuff,” Reed told the Boston Globe, referring to pricing. “You never know.”