PSNH bills likely to increase more than expected
Public Service of New Hampshire is predicting a bigger than expected increase in customer bills, the company announced yesterday.
Instead of going up by about 5 percent as the company predicted in September, bills will likely go up 8 percent beginning in January, said PSNH spokesman Martin Murray. The adjustment would mean an increase of about $5.78 a month for a residential customer using 500 kilowatt-hours.
Murray attributed the projected increase in the energy service rate to a couple of things: a 20 percent jump in the price of natural gas and state environmental regulations PSNH must meet.
Murray pointed to the $422 million mercury scrubber PSNH was required to install at its Bow coal-burning plant. “That benefits all of us in New Hampshire,” he said. “The cost is associated with the clean air project, which reduces sulfur and mercury emissions for all of us, but the cost is paid only by PSNH customers.”
When asked why non-PSNH customers should pay to make a PSNH power plant cleaner, Murray repeated himself and said state lawmakers and policy writers need to give PSNH more flexibility. He said meeting the state’s environmental regulations, including renewable energy standards and the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, costs PSNH $67 million annually.
“Everyone wants cleaner air,” he said. “That is something we are concerned with. But while it appears that policies like this are designed for the greater good . . . they are being borne by a certain population.”
The new rate projection, which PSNH is required to file with the Public Utilities Commission, still needs the commission’s approval. Murray said it factors in the company’s actual costs for the year and its predicted costs. PSNH produces much of the energy it needs but has to purchase some, including natural gas, he said.
(Annmarie Timmins can be reached at 369-3323, firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @annmarietimmins.)