For those of you who’ve regularly read the Energy Brief over the course of the last year, the recent news of rising electricity rates will come as no surprise. Still, the sticker shock is so significant it’s hard to pick just a few headlines to share.
Several New Hampshire utilities have recently asked state regulators to approve significant increases in the ‘energy’ component of their rates, driving the average electric bill for some NH residents this winter as much as 50 percent higher a month. Meanwhile, in Massachusetts, rates are expected to hit record levels.
These increases will shrink homeowners’ disposable income, add to local businesses operating costs and strain local government budgets. Consumer advocates and opinion makers are already asking officials to do something to soften the blow, both this winter and in winters to come.
New England’s increased demand for natural gas must be addressed, but if the focus is only on pipelines and the supply of natural gas, the region’s overall problem will not be corrected. Overreliance on natural gas has left New England more susceptible to price volatility on the energy market at the same time that a number of non-gas fired power plants have announced retirement. While adding more pipelines can help minimize the price spikes, it does nothing to reduce our dependence on natural gas in the long term, and does not get us to our clean energy goals.
Our high electricity and home heating prices have made energy a political issue across New England. People are looking to elected officials to help with the problem, but they remain in a tough position. With opposition to pipelines, transmission lines, wind turbines and more, finding balance between local interests and the region’s energy needs will continue to be a challenge.
Electric rates set to spike this winter
“Energy industry officials have been warning for several years that New England’s growing dependence on natural gas could result in price spikes if steps such as the expansion of the pipeline system are not taken. About two-thirds of the electricity used in Massachusetts is made with natural gas, up from about 40 percent just six years ago.”
If approved, the company’s energy charge will nearly double, increasing to 15.5 cents per kilowatt-hour from the current 8.4 cents. The new rate would take effect Dec. 1.
Liberty Utilities requests a 46% rate hike
(New Hampshire Union Leader)
“An average residential customer using 665 kilowatt hours a month would see his bill rise by $51.57 a month, from $110.48 to $162.05.”
Electricity Prices Soar
“The sharply higher rates are coming at a time when several of the region’s coal power plants are shutting down and the New England governors are debating where replacement electricity will come from.”
“New Hampshire’s Consumer Advocate has asked regulators to soften the blow of a big rate hike expected for as many as 42,000 New Hampshire electricity customers.”
“State and federal authorities responsible for choosing a plan must balance all competing public interests — and preferably on an expedited time table.”
Everywhere but Northeast, fewer homes choose natural gas as heating fuel
(EIA: Today in Energy)
“(Nationally) electricity has been gaining market share at the expense of natural gas. The Northeast is the exception, as both natural gas and electricity have been increasing while distillate fuel oil and kerosene have declined.”
Abundant natural gas won’t reduce greenhouse gas emissions enough
“Their modeling found that having a high supply of natural gas does little to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the future, largely because the use of gas slowed the transition to renewables.”
Maine Voices: With Maine at clean-energy tipping point, next governor will play key role
(Portland Press Herald)
“In the long term, the state must also find more environmentally friendly and cost-effective heating and electricity solutions.”
Deval Patrick’s renewable revolution
(Boston Business Review)
“It was Patrick, as the state’s chief executive, who set the tone that spurred a steady stream of new laws and regulations that dramatically reshaped the state’s energy policy.