WMECo customers frustrated with electric rate hike

LONGMEADOW, Mass. (WWLP) – For weeks, 22News has been speaking with frustrated residents about National Grid and WMECo’s recent electric rate hike. On Sunday, we spoke with people  in Longmeadow.

“I’m very frustrated with that: the whole idea of prices going up again,” said Carl Reiner, a WMECo customer in Springfield.

About 200,000 people will soon be paying Western Massachusetts Electric Company more to power their homes. They don’t have a choice: if they want electricity, they have to pay. However, the Department of Public Utilities had a choice to reject the power company’s nearly 30 percent rate hike proposal. Instead, the DPU approved it, costing families about $26 more each month.

Jeff Goodless is a WMECo customer in Longmeadow. He said he was moving to East Longmeadow, which has National Grid, and was in the process of building a “green house.”

“I decided that when I’m building this new home, I’m trying to make the house green which consists of heavier insulation, LED lighting, thermopane windows, trying to make it energy efficient, trying to cut my electric costs in half,” Goodless said. He hopes to save $70 per month.

WMECo services customers in Longmeadow, but just over the border in East Longmeadow becomes National Grid service. Those residents were charged more per month starting November 1, 2014.

Both WMECo and National Grid claim the natural gas pipeline is too small to generate enough electricity for them. Proposals to create additional pipelines, like Kinder Morgan, have been criticized.

“Maybe the pipeline’s a good thing. Maybe it’s not. I hope we’re not being manipulated into saying well let’s get the pipeline because then the rates will go down and then have to deal with the issues of pipelines going through people’s backyards,” said Reiner.

Holyoke, Westfield and Chicopee have municipal electric companies. That gives them more freedom to choose how to generate their electricity and they don’t rely as much on the natural gas pipeline. Each company said they don’t expect they will be charging their customers more this winter.

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