Cape Light Compact Concerned with Changes in New Eversource Filing

Cape Light Compact Officials present changes made in new Eversource Energy Rate Case filing with the Department of Public Utilities.

BARNSTABLE – An updating filing by Eversource Energy to the Department of Public Utilities on its rate hikes includes significant changes which would affect residents on Cape Cod and Martha’s Vineyard.

The Cape Light Compact presented changes made in a June 1st filing which adds $17 million in charges each year to Eastern Mass residential customers to cover customers in the western part of the state.

“There’s a cross-subsidization that our bills are going up and their bills are going down as a result of us picking up $17 million,” said Maggie Downey, the Compact Administrator.

According to Austin Brandt, the Compact’s power supply planner, the increased charges for eastern mass customers will not just cover western mass customers, but also customers in other rate classes in eastern mass.

“So my mother is picking up the cost or your mother is picking up the cost as a residential customer of the University of Massachusetts and other larger institutions and businesses that have the wherewithal to fight and to stand up for not having costs go up,” Downey said.

Eversource made the changes after receiving public comments since making it’s original filing on January 17 to cover the costs of operation and maintenance and grid modernization.

“We can understand an update of cost is appropriate. That is why they go through these things so we can look at their books, but to be playing games and moving numbers around like this is unfair,” said Kevin Galligan, a consultant working with the Compact.

Another change in the filing is an increase in the discount for low-income customers. The discount would increase from 30 to 36 percent which would decrease the average bill 11 percent.

The Compact is also voicing concerns with the utility’s $496 million Grid Modernization Plan. Officials believe some elements of the plan do not align with the DPU’s order on grid modernization plan requirements.

“We have a grid modernization plan that was filed by Eversource that is inconsistent with the direction they were given by the Department of Public Utilities and it should not be accepted,” Downey said. “It should be replaced with a plan that is consistent with those objectives as soon as possible.”

Galligan said the grid modernization plan lacks consistency across service territories.

“There are some places in Massachusetts where half of the towns are served by Eversource and people right across the street are served by National Grid,” Galligan said. “Both utilities have filed dramatically different plans.”

In hearings the Compact urged the DUP to set a new vision for the state across the board.

“We don’t want one plan for the Cape Codders that is much less than the National Grid folks because it’s inconsistent,” Galligan said. “We all need to grow and learn and participate in our smart grid together.”

Downey said the Compact is advocating for customers to fight to make sure these changes don’t happen.

Galligan said the best thing for customers to do is write letters to the DPU expressing concerns.

“The Cape customers and the Vineyard wrote some very good detailed letters and the hearing room here when the DPU came to Barnstable County the room was packed,” Galligan said. “Now there is another opportunity as the DPU opened the investigation again specific to these cost shifts that are occurring to say ‘hell no.’”

The DPU will conduct rate case hearings through June and into July. The DPU is scheduled to make a ruling on November 30.

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