(WWLP) – National Grid customers may see their electric bills increase next year, if the state approves a proposed increase in their electricity distribution rates. The company, the largest electric utility in Massachusetts, says that they need the increase in order to maintain their network. According to a National Grid news release sent to 22News, the average customer’s bill would increase by about 7%, or $7.75 per month for a customer who uses 500 kilowatt hours of electricity.
Laurie Leyshon of Colrain told 22News, “Maintenance is important to keep the system efficient, but they’re making tremendous profits and I think it’s more important to re-invest money into renewable sources like solar and wind.”
The distribution rate is the part of your electric bill that covers your provider’s cost of delivering the electricity to your home. It is different from the supply rate, which has gone up and down substantially over the last few seasons. That portion of the bill deals with the cost your utility company incurs by purchasing the electricity from a generator.
National Grid says that while the supply rate has fluctuated greatly, their distribution rates have stayed the same since 2009. They say that since then, the cost of maintaining their system has gone up. “National Grid’s rates reflect the cost of doing business in 2008. This proposal would update rates to reflect the cost of doing business during the year ending June 30, 2015,” the statement reads.
Joshua Singer of Alameda, California, said, “7% doesn’t sound like that much. I would imagine it’s cheaper to do it now then to wait to do it later. I would be in supporter of that.”
Marcy Reed, president of National Grid in Massachusetts, said that they have improved the reliability of their service, and are communicating better with consumers, but this comes at an increasing cost. “We are no longer recovering our investments. While it is never a good time to raise rates, it is critical that we review real, current costs now to be able to attract investors who shoulder the up-front investments in the system and allow us to deliver electricity safely and reliably,” Reed said.
The Department of Public Utilities has to review National Grid’s proposal, a process that is expected to take about 11 months. If approved, the rate increase would go into effect on October 1, 2016.