BARNSTABLE – Citing a dramatic increase in the price of electricity NSTAR buys on behalf of customers, the company today filed for an increase in its Basic Service supply rate that would become effective on January 1st
The current spike in electricity prices stems from constraints in the existing pipelines that bring natural gas to regional generating companies.
The proposed change in NSTAR’s Basic Service supply rate would increase the average residential customer’s bill by about $28, or an average of 29 percent across the company’s service area.
The new rates must first be approved by the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities.
“We’re always mindful of the effect these supplier increases have on our customers, particularly those who are facing difficult financial circumstances,” said Penni Conner, Senior Vice President and Chief Customer Officer at Northeast Utilities, NSTAR’s parent company. “We’re urging all NSTAR customers to take advantage of our efficiency programs to help reduce their usage, tighten-up their homes and keep energy bills down this winter.”
As a regulated delivery company in Massachusetts, NSTAR purchases electricity from suppliers and passes the cost, with no profit added, directly to customers who are on the company’s Basic Service supply option.
By law, the Basic Service price for residential and small commercial customers changes twice a year, on January 1st and July 1st.
Customers who purchase their electricity through aggregate buyers or directly from suppliers would contact those companies for information about any anticipated increases in their rates.
Though delivery charges vary slightly by region, the supply charge for all NSTAR residential customers on the company’s Basic Service supply option would increase to 14.972 cents per kilowatt-hour.
Customers of the former Boston Edison Company using 500 kilowatt-hours per month would see their bill increase from $95.45 to $123.41, or about 29 percent;.
Customers of the former Commonwealth Electric territory would see an increase from $100.77 to $128.73, or about 28 percent; and those of the former Cambridge Electric Company would see an increase from $91.81 to $119.77, or about 30 percent.
More than half of New England’s electricity is now produced using natural gas.
NSTAR officials say that though natural gas remains an abundant and inexpensive fuel, regional pipeline limitations and the growing dependency on gas to produce electricity are pushing prices higher.
“While these constraints will continue to affect electricity customers in the near-term, Northeast Utilities is committed to pursuing strategic projects to help solve these challenges. To that end, NU and Spectra Energy recently proposed the Access Northeast project to expand the region’s natural gas capacity using existing pipeline routes, with an anticipated in-service date of November 2018,” according to NSTAR officials.
NSTAR officials say that NU’s proposed Northern Pass Project will bring clean and low-cost energy from Hydro-Quebec’s hydroelectric plants to New Hampshire and New England.
NSTAR officials are also encouraging customers to conserve electricity. “As prices increase, it’s particularly important to explore the many energy efficiency improvement options that can dramatically lower use. Simple steps like turning down the thermostat; caulking drafty doors and windows; making sure heating vents aren’t blocked; and switching to energy efficient lightbulbs will all save money,” they wrote.