By Anthony Zepperi, Staff Writer
HARTFORD – Connecticut’s utility regulators said recently that Eversource Energy, which drew protests during the summer for a rate increase, will raise prices Jan. 1 to account for higher generating costs.
Unlike the increases quickly rescinded by the state Public Utilities Regulatory Authority, Eversource and United Illuminating make no money from the rate increase intended to absorb generating costs that pass through Eversource. The rates extend to June 30.
“We recognize the effect higher electricity prices can have on our customers, especially during these unprecedented times with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and we want to help them better manage their energy use,” Penni Conner, an Eversource senior vice president, said.
Eversource has no control over fluctuating energy prices, but the utility says it offers energy efficiency programs to help customers cut electricity use.
“This is a direct pass-through cost to customers for the price of power generation, with no profit to the company,” Eversource said.
The proposed winter electricity prices are about 8.4 cents a kilowatt-hour, up from about 7.4 cents, a 13 percent increase. The average residential customer using 700 kilowatt-hours of electricity a month would pay about $7.11 more on the supply portion of their bill, Eversource said.
It would apply to customers in Connecticut who are signed up for the company’s standard service generation rate, or those not using an alternative energy company.
PURA said the new rates are less than what was issued in the first half of 2018, 2019 and 2020.
The U.S. Energy Information Agency said it expects U.S. residential electricity prices this year to average 13.1 cents per kilowatt-hour, up 0.4 percent from the average electricity price in 2019. Its short term energy outlook in October expects wholesale electricity prices in New England to be about 33 percent higher next year, due primarily to expected costs of natural gas for power generation.
Under state law that deregulated electricity, energy companies such as Eversource bid twice a year for power supplies, award contracts to low bidders and pass along the costs to customers without markups.
In June, PURA approved higher rates based on transmission and other charges complicated by heat waves, power purchased from the Millstone nuclear plant and a pandemic that’s changing consumer behavior.