Winter electric rates going up, but not nearly as much as last year
Connecticut’s two biggest power companies announced on Friday that supply rates are going up this winter.
But they say that's good news.
Why? Because the increases are much smaller than winter’s massive spike.
RATES RISING, BUT ONLY SLIGHTLY
In Connecticut, electric bills are divided into two charges – supply and delivery. Eversource and United Illuminating are only responsible for delivering power to your home. They must buy the actual electricity on the open market.
The supply rate is what’s going up. By law, utilities cannot profit off supply rates. Eversource and UI must directly pass on what they pay suppliers.
“Eversource is not in the supply business; we do not generate electricity. Electricity is generated by very large national and international companies,” said Eversource Connecticut president Steve Sullivan. “So we go out on the open market. We do the best we can purchasing their power, and then we pass that on at no cost to our customers.”
Eversource filed for a 6.5% supply rate increase over their current summer rate. UI customers will see a 19% hike. For the average customer, that's an extra $6.30 a month for Eversource bills and $19 for UI customers.
State regulators must first approve the rates, which will run until June 30, to verify that the utilities are not profiting off supply charges.
LOWER THAN LAST WINTER
Last winter, customers were stunned when Eversource announced an average $80 a month supply hike.
The dramatic increase was due to natural gas shortages, supply chain issues and the war in Ukraine.
“Those prices have since stabilized, even though the conflict is ongoing,” said Sarah Wall, a UI spokesperson. “This is good news for our customers in many ways. Unlike last year, our customers will not be seeing an over 100% supply rate increase.”
More than half of Connecticut’s electricity comes from natural gas, which is even more expensive in New England because it must be shipped here on a boat.
Longer term, the state is moving away from expensive fossil fuels – investing in solar, hydroelectricity from Canada and offshore wind power. But most of those sources are still several years away.
HELP FOR CUSTOMERS
There is help for customers struggling to pay their bills.
“We have a brand-new low-income discount rate,” said Jessica Cain, Eversource’s vice president of customer operations. “So customers who are in households that are low-income will either get a 10% or a 50% discount off their total bill.”
Customers can also apply to the Connecticut Energy Assistance Program. But unless Congress acts, the program is facing a 31% cut this winter – while demand is projected to grow by 10%.
Demand is so high this year that Operation Fuel closed its summer application window one month early. The program will resume applications for the winter and spring on Jan. 2.