First National Grid, and now WMECo is raising prices

Customers will pay the higher price from January 1st to June 30th

CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) – Western Massachusetts Electric Company announced their new basic service rate on Friday that will go into effect on New Year’s Day.

Come January 1st, an average customer can expect to pay $26 more on their monthly electric bill. WMECo’s announcement follows National Grid’s price spike that went into effect on November 1st.

According to WMECo spokeswoman Priscilla Ress, “It starts on January 1st. In the meantime we do have a lot of time still to make the adjustments we need to, to make sure we’re using our electricity as wisely as we possibly can.”

The limited supply of natural gas used to generate electricity is pushing the prices up. Electric companies do not control that supply price, so now the customers have to share some of the burden.

The experts come in and they look at your house from the attic to the basement, and what happens is you evaluate where are you losing heat, how’s your furnace running, is it running efficiently,” said Ress

WMECo customers will pay the higher price from January 1st to June 30th.

Below is the entire new release sent to 22News from WMECO regarding the price increase:

Citing a dramatic increase in the price of electricity WMECo buys on behalf of customers, the company today filed for an increase in its Basic Service supply rate that would become effective on January 1st.The current spike in electricity prices stems from widely publicized constraints in the existing pipelines that bring natural gas to regional generating companies.

The proposed change in WMECo’s Basic Service supply rate would increase the average residential customer’s bill by about $26, or approximately 29 percent. The new rates must first be approved by the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities.

“We’re always mindful of the effect these supplier increases have on our customers, particularly those who are facing difficult financial circumstances,” said Penni Conner, Senior Vice President and Chief Customer Officer at Northeast Utilities, WMECo’s parent company. “We’re urging all WMECo customers to take advantage of our efficiency programs to help reduce their usage, tighten-up their homes and keep energy bills down this winter.”

As a regulated delivery company in Massachusetts WMECo purchases electricity from suppliers and passes the cost, with no profit added, directly to customers who are on the company’s Basic Service supply option. By law, the Basic Service price for residential and small commercial customers changes twice a year, on January 1st and July 1st. Customers who purchase their electricity through aggregate buyers or directly from suppliers would contact those companies for information about any anticipated increases in their rates.

The supply charge for all WMECo residential customers on the company’s Basic Service supply option would increase to 14.015 cents per kilowatt-hour. Customers using an average of 500 kilowatt-hours per month would see their bill increase from $90.40 to $116.26, or about 29 percent.

More than half of New England’s electricity is now produced using natural gas. Though natural gas remains an abundant and inexpensive fuel, regional pipeline limitations and the growing dependency on gas to produce electricity are pushing prices higher. While these constraints will continue to affect electricity customers in the near-term, Northeast Utilities is committed to pursuing strategic projects to help solve these challenges. To that end, NU and Spectra Energy recently proposed the Access Northeast project to expand the region’s natural gas capacity using existing pipeline routes, with an anticipated in-service date of November 2018. In addition, NU’s proposed Northern Pass Project will bring clean and low-cost energy from Hydro-Quebec’s world-class hydroelectric plants to New Hampshire and New England.

As prices increase, it’s particularly important to explore the many energy efficiency improvement options that can dramatically lower use. Simple steps like turning down the thermostat; caulking drafty doors and windows; making sure heating vents aren’t blocked; and switching to energy efficient light bulbs, will all help save money.

A good way to discover what efficiency measures are needed in any home is to sign up for a no-cost home energy assessment. Customers can also take advantage of generous energy efficiency rebates and incentives. WMECo also offers enhanced energy efficiency programs– including no-cost weatherization services – as well as discounted electricity rates to income-eligible customers. And the company’s budget billing option can help manage household expenses by providing equal monthly payments throughout the year.

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