PSNH expects overall rate reduction for customers starting July 1
Public Service of New Hampshire’s customers may see a slight decrease in their monthly energy bills beginning this summer.
“It’s a modest reduction percentage wise, but it is a reduction,” said company spokesman Martin Murray.
According to PSNH’s rate filing submitted last week, the company expects average residential customers – those using 500 kilowatt-hours – will see a roughly 31-cent, or 0.3 percent, reduction in their overall monthly energy bills. The decrease would take effect July 1, if the Public Utilities Commission approves several adjustments PSNH requested. The new rate would be in effect until Dec. 31.
It’s a change from the company’s preliminary filing, submitted in May, that forecasted an overall rate increase of roughly 1.7 percent for the average residential customer.
“This filing simply reflects all of the numbers and brings them up to current,” Murray said. “Added together it equals an overall reduction for PSNH customers.”
If approved, a PSNH residential customer using 500 kilowatt-hours would see a monthly bill of $91.68, down from $91.98.
The company is seeking several reductions in charges that include distribution and transmission. One of the biggest downward effects on the rate would come from a Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative rebate that would offer customers using 500 kilowatt-hours a month a credit of about 78 cents on their bill, Murray said.
New Hampshire is one of the nine member states that participate in the RGGI cap and trade program. Under the initiative, fossil-fuel-burning power plants have to purchase a RGGI-issued allowance at an auction for each ton of carbon dioxide they emit. In New Hampshire, earnings from the auctions are split: $1 from every allowance sold goes to energy efficiency programs and anything above that is funneled into rebates for all electric service ratepayers. “That’s a significant aspect of it,” Murray said.
Even though PSNH expects its customers’ bills to decrease overall, the company is requesting a roughly 6.9 percent increase for its energy service charge, bringing it to 9.87 cents per kilowatt-hour of electricity.
That charge is up from the current rate of 9.23 cents per kilowatt-hour, which has been in place since the beginning of this year. But it would be a decrease from the energy service rate of 9.98 cents per kilowatt-hour that PSNH forecast in May.
The increase in that charge is driven by two things: future and past energy costs, Murray said. “We expect wholesale prices for New Hampshire to be close to 40 percent higher than last year,” he said. “That is going to impact everybody.”
Over the past winter, PSNH had to purchase some power at market price, which was much more than had been anticipated, Murray said.
In the past few months, other utilities have also instituted electric energy service rate changes.
Starting in May and lasting through October, Liberty Utilities residential customers pay roughly 7.73 cents per kilowatt-hour of electricity, which is a reduction from the previous rate of roughly 8.9 cents per kilowatt-hour, according to a March filing with the PUC.
The decrease is due to a limited natural gas pipeline infrastructure, said Liberty Utilities spokesman John Shore in an email. The high demand for the fuel in winter drives up the price, but in the summer, when the net demand for natural gas is lower, the price of electricity generation is less, Shore said.
Beginning June 1, Unitil started charging residential customers about 8.4 cents per kilowatt-hour of electricity, down from 9.6 cents per kilowatt-hour. Under the new rate, customers will see an average 6.6 percent decrease in monthly bills, according to the company’s April filing with the PUC.
(Allie Morris can be reached at 369-3307 or at email@example.com.)