Energy Costs for Some Massachusetts Businesses Could Increase by 10 Percent

Date: January 31, 2017

 

Massachusetts energy costs are already some of the highest in the country, but one of the state’s electric companies would like to see those go higher.

Eversource filed a request with the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities (DPU) to raise consumer prices on electricity delivered by NSTAR Electric Company and Western Massachusetts Electric Company. The increase would amount to a $96 million rate increase, including 10.5 percent shareholder profit. Residential, commercial, and industrial customers would be affected by this 10 percent increase.

However, following the rate hike request, Attorney General Maura Healey announced her opposition and vowed to fight it.

“As a regulated public utility, Eversource is required to justify why the state should permit it to raise electric rates on residents and business customers,” Healey said in a statement. “Our initial evaluation shows that Eversource should be returning profits to customers as savings, not raising rates. We urge the DPU to reject Eversource’s request for a rate hike.”

This isn’t the first time Healey has taken action on this issue. In December 2016, she sent a letter to the DPU asking for an investigation into why Massachusetts utility companies are allowed to collect higher profits than those in neighboring states. In October 2016, the DPU allowed a 9.9 percent shareholder profit (return on equity, or ROE) as part of National Grid’s $101 million rate hike, the highest in the state for an electric or gas utility company since 2009. In Connecticut and Maine, meanwhile, ROE for electric companies have been limited to 9.1 and 9.0 percent, respectively. Twelve million dollars per year could be saved for National Grid customers in Massachusetts if that ROE were limited to 9.1 percent, Healey’s press release noted.

NFIB/MA State Director Bill Vernon spoke out about small business owners’ concerns about energy costs as well.

“Because Massachusetts’ small business owners are increasingly concerned that the high cost of energy is affecting their ability to compete here, we will be closely monitoring the proceedings before the Department of Public Utilities and thank Attorney General Healey for her advocacy on behalf of small businesses,” he said in a statement.

DPU isn’t expected to make a decision until the end of the year, and if approved, the increase would go into effect on Jan. 1, 2018, The Berkshire Eagle reported.

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