New Hampshire residents are expected to hit their electric bills for the rest of 2022. The average utility company adds more than $ 70 per month to its monthly bill, more than doubling Eversource’s supply rate.
Here’s a look at what this means for New Hampshire residents, why it’s happening and what kind of help is available in the state:
How much is my bill rising?
New Hampshire Eversource residential customers are proposed to increase their default service rate from 10.669 cents per kilowatt hour to 22.566 cents per kilowatt hour.
With this adjustment to the default energy service rate, on average, Eversource Residential Electric customers in New Hampshire use 600 kilowatt hours of electricity per month, which sees an increase of approximately $ 71.39 bill per month.
This rate is based on responses to the company’s process for setting the purchase price from wholesale suppliers in a competitive market.
Utility bills are likely to increase by up to 50% based on recent rate changes filed with the Public Utilities Commission, according to the Office of Consumer Advocates.
The average bill has two parts: the supply price, the price you pay per kilowatt hour, and the delivery portion for what it takes to deliver energy to your home.
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“This increase will look different for everyone,” said Eversource spokesman William Hinkle. Typically in New England, our electricity supply rates go down in the summer and rise in the winter.
How much energy a consumer bill increases will depend on their rate class and weather conditions. If approved, this rate will remain in effect for six months until the next change of rate takes effect on February 1, 2023.
“These all-time supply prices coincide with consumers using roughly 25% more electricity to cool homes during the summer months,” Hinkle said. “That could exacerbate the effect of an increase in supply.”
What is the government doing to help?
In response to the increase, Republican Gov. Chris Sununu on Wednesday announced a $ 100 million state emergency energy relief program to help homes with power bill sticker trauma this summer and winter.
The program helps offset the cost of certain ratepayers, providing $ 100 credit to each ratepayer in the state using $ 60 million from the state’s surplus, no application or discount process required.
The program includes $ 7.5 million to provide direct benefits to 24,000 families who received assistance this past winter through the Energy Assistance Program, $ 7 million average household income from state extra dollars for the Electricity Assistance Program to provide electricity bill assistance for those under 60, and the Federal Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program in November $ 25 million increase.
Where does the money for help come from?
Sununu said the event was a “hilarious sigh” for consumers as the state allowed additional funds to help them meet rising summer electricity costs and help residents get ready for an expensive winter.
“Energy prices are skyrocketing across the country. New Hampshire is investing more than $ 100 million to provide a quick, effective solution to reduce the burden on families,” Sununu said in a statement. “Providing relief, especially to those in need, is the priority.”
According to the Associated Press, additional state-sponsored proposals would require legislative approval, which would not be in session until September when lawmakers will return vetoed bills.
The state’s All-Democratic congressional delegation is quick to point out that New Hampshire has an additional state because they have distributed nearly $ 1 billion in federal COVID-19 relief funds over the past two years and $ 94 million in LIHEAP funds. He wrote to Sununu last week that the money should be used for direct help.
“The resources we have received have helped the state to have money to respond to rising energy costs and we encourage the state to continue with a direct solution,” the delegation said in a statement Wednesday. “The state needs to continue to look for additional ways to utilize the remaining federal relief funds to support granite stators.”
Why is this happening in the NH?
Natural gas and oil prices are rising worldwide, and electricity prices are rising. The increase is widespread across New England, thanks to the combination of the Covid economic recovery, inflation, climate change affecting the gas-producing states, and the ongoing war in Ukraine that raises natural gas and oil prices. The region’s dependence on natural gas is one of the biggest drivers.
Consumer lawyer Donald Crees said he had never seen such a rate increase in his 23-year career. This, he said, outweighs current economic factors.
“What we are seeing is a natural consequence of New Hampshire’s decision to rely on wholesale and retail competition in 1996 to keep electricity prices reasonable,” Kreis said. “You have to take the good and the bad with the market-oriented price and that’s the worst part. The wholesale power has gone through the roof.
Crease explained that historically low natural gas prices over the past decade have given a false sense of security, with price increases seem extreme.
“We’ve been seeing this for quite some time, and I’m warning people that we’re looking at the most unsettling second half of 2022, especially the winter,” Crease said. “Natural gas is a volatile commodity. We knew the low prices would not last forever, and what happened was that they were roaring back.
Crease said New England relies on natural gas for its energy production. When prices of natural gas go up globally, those increases go through the wholesale cost of electricity.
“We are not diverse in terms of the fuels we rely on to generate our electricity, and there are restrictions when it comes to relocating natural gas to New England,” Kreis said. “We have to be more energy efficient.
If I can’t afford my bill, where can I get help?
Eversource encourages customers to enroll in one of its payment plans or assistance programs if they need help with their energy bill. Customers may be eligible for various flexible payment plans or certain discounts based on income guidelines. Eversource says there are some simple tips that consumers can use to save energy at home. For each degree higher in the air conditioner temperature setting, it consumes 1% -3% less power. Switching to LED lightbulbs and closing blinds and using thick black-out curtains can also help.
Crease suggests that those worried about raising their bill will need to reach out to their local community action agencies to see if they are eligible for assistance. In addition to reducing usage and applying for help through local, state or federal programs, Kreis said competing energy providers are not a utility that all consumers can do. He said it is possible to save some money by signing up, but this is gambling because most consumers will need to lock in a rate for a year or more.
“Middle-class families are severely beaten because they are not poor enough to qualify for assistance from most state and federal programs, but that does not mean they do not feel pressure on their wallet,” Kreis said.
Strafford County Community Action Partnership: straffordcap.org
Rockingham County and Southern New Hampshire: snhs.org
Why is the NH different than other New England states?
New Hampshire is not just the state of New England, it is suffering a sticker shock. According to a recent report from the US Energy Information Administration, the region is expected to see some of the most expensive wholesale electricity prices in the country this summer.
Hinkle explained that Massachusetts and Connecticut Eversource customers are also seeing an increase, but New Hampshire looks sharp in comparison because New Hampshire has historically had a lower rate per kilowatt.
“New Hampshire had the lowest rate in the past, about 10 cents per kilowatt hour, but the Massachusetts rate was already 13.73 to 15.7 cents per kilowatt hour,” Hinkle said.
For most Central Maine power consumers, the supply rate for 2022 is over 80%, adding about $ 30 to the average monthly bill. The AP reported last week that Central Maine Power announced last week that consumers will get a break on their bills from next month. Electric rates will drop by 5.5% on July 1 as part of the company’s rate coordination and adjustment process, which is approximately $ 3.40 per month for the general consumer, offset by a $ 30-per-month increase in the “standard offer” rate. 1.
Can the NH do it more quickly?
State Sen. Rai, who is seeking a Democratic nomination for governor. Tom Sherman criticized Sununu for being strategic rather than reactive, and said Sununu has repeatedly vetoed measures to expand energy options and reduce rising costs.
“If we understand the environment in which things happen, we can expect and be prepared for this awful lot,” he said. “We weren’t ready for this.”
Sununu called the criticism “insane” and said the vetoes had saved the state hundreds of millions of dollars.
“I sometimes take a lot of criticism for vetoing those bills. But this is the right thing to do, not for Chris Sununu, for the ratepayers,” he said.
Associated Press items are used in this report.