National Grid customers are expected to see a 64% increase in their electric bills this winter, the company announced Wednesday.
In a press release titled "Winter Customer Savings Initiative," the power company announced that natural gas prices are expected to be significantly higher this winter due to "global conflict, inflation and high demand," which will result in a hefty increase in their electricity rates starting Nov. 1.
National Grid said the monthly bill of a typical residential customer using 600 kilowatt-hours will increase from $179 last winter to about $293 this winter, an increase of about 64%. National Grid said the delivery portion of electric bills will basically remain flat.
"National Grid buys electricity on behalf of its customers from the wholesale power market through a regulatory approved process established 20 years ago. That process has served customers well over the years and provides flexibility for unforeseen events, like limited supplier response to solicitations. But things have fundamentally changed,” Helen Burt, the company's chief customer officer, said in a statement. “Today, under a sustained, high market price environment, it is challenging to maintain affordable prices. Given that, we think it’s a good time to work with our regulators and other stakeholders to review the process and electricity supply dynamics in the region, with an eye toward reducing price volatility and maintaining a secure, reliable and resilient energy system for the future.”
The company said its "Winter Customer Savings Initiative" is aimed at helping customers cope with rising energy costs. It consists of educating customers on how they can reduce and manage their energy costs.
“We know winter isn’t far away, so we’re encouraging and making it easier for our customers to take action now and letting them know that we are here to help,” Burt said.
The company also announced that its natural gas rates are expected to rise on Nov. 1. They have a pending proposal with the state Department of Public Utilities that would result in the monthly bill for an average Boston Gas residential heating customer using 115 therms per month of $278, an increase of $50, or 22%, compared to last winter's rates.
National Grid has about 1.3 million electric customers in the state.
Eversource, the state's other major electric provider, said in an email that it is on a different schedule than National Grid for setting its electric rates.
"We file electric base service rates twice per year with the DPU," company spokesman Chris McKinnon said. "Our last change was on July 1, 2022 and our next change will be January 1, 2023, which we will be filing for in the coming months."
However, Eversource did announce Wednesday that it has submitted a proposal to the Department of Public Utilities seeking to raise its natural gas rates. They said their average residential customer using 126 therms of gas a month would see an increase of about 38%, or $86 on their natural gas bill over last winter. Those rate increases would take effect Nov. 1.
Prompted by Wednesday's announcement, the Massachusetts Attorney General's Office said it was meeting with local utility companies, regulators and consumer groups to look for ways to help residents deal with costs.
"National Grid’s rate hike will be devastating for hundreds of thousands of customers in Massachusetts who simply cannot afford it," a representative said in a statement. "We urge the DPU to find ways to lessen the impact on energy bills and find long term solutions to prevent customers from seeing rates like these ever again. Our office is exploring all possible options to alleviate this burden and help customers pay their bills this winter."
Over the border in New Hampshire, Eversource announced in July that electric rates would be doubling for many residents due to higher natural gas prices fueled in part by the war in Ukraine.