My Turn: Don’t let Eversource rate hike go unnoticed

For the Monitor
Published: 8/29/2020 6:00:03 AM

Easily lost in the tragedy of the COVID-19 pandemic and the endless news cycle of this election season is an important opportunity to keep electric rates fair for nearly 450,000 New Hampshire households.

The New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission is currently considering the fate of New Hampshire Eversource electric customers. In a state that already pays some of the highest electric rates in the country, Eversource has asked for a nearly 24% rate increase on residential customers, along with surcharges that would make it easier to raise rates in the future and charge customers more even when their usage drops.

Our Public Utilities Commission will hear from experts, Eversource, and advocates like AARP as it reviews the company’s request to raise residential electric rates by nearly 24% for the two-thirds of the state the company serves. Other rate classes, like large commercial and industrial customers, would likely see much smaller increases or even rate decreases, while residential customers would likely shoulder the burden of an unfair rate hike.

Even more alarming, the proposal would add a new surcharge that allows Eversource to almost automatically increase rates in the future, and continue a surcharge that can raise rates even when electric usage declines. These fees not only remove incentives for the utility to become more efficient but also sidestep the normal, transparent process the state has for setting rates. This does not seem sensible during a pandemic and in times of economic uncertainty.

Eversource is even asking to increase the customer charge – the charge we pay each month before turning on the lights. Fair utility rates should mean customers pay less when they reduce their electricity usage, but high fixed charges take away that benefit, particularly for older adults who tend to use less electricity.

When so many in our state are already struggling with the economic fallout of the pandemic, we cannot afford another unfair rate hike on our electric bills. Customers have a voice in this. In the midst of all that is happening, we urge Eversource customers not to ignore this case.

On behalf of our 225,000 Granite State members, AARP New Hampshire has formally intervened at the PUC to stop these unfair proposals, and we will testify before the commission in the coming weeks. But the PUC also needs to hear directly from the New Hampshire residents who can’t afford an unfair rate hike. You can join us in our fight by sending a comment to the PUC at

Utility rates are a pocketbook issue for New Hampshire residents, and rate hikes and surcharges hit especially hard for older adults with low or fixed incomes. The PUC cannot allow Eversource to put the largest rate increases on residential customers, sidestep the PUC with future automatic increases, or increase the fixed charges that disproportionately hurt older residents.

(Todd Fahey is the state director of AARP New Hampshire.)


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