Eversource CEO Joe Nolan said Thursday that the company’s electric customers in Connecticut could see their bills rise about 40 percent in January, and that natural gas customers could see an increase of 20 percent to account for global market prices.
Nolan reportedly told WTNH earlier this week that its customers could face bill increases of “twenty to thirty to forty percent,” but his comments in a call with investors on Thursday suggested that it would be closer to 40 percent for electric customers.
Nolan said Thursday that it’s likely that increases in Connecticut and Massachusetts will be similar to the company’s rate increase in New Hampshire – where rates more than doubled on Aug. 1, from 10.669 cents per kilowatt hour to 22.566 cents per kilowatt hour.
“Given where prices are today, it looks like we will be in that range,” Eversource spokeswoman Tricia Modifica said after the call. “But we won’t have the exact rate until it’s time to file the standard service rate with PURA, which we expect to do within a couple of weeks.”
In Connecticut, the standard Eversource rate is now 12.05 cents per kilowatt hour. So an average residential electric customer using 700 kilowatt-hours of electricity every month would see their bill increase from about $177 to $247 – about 40 percent.
Nolan said he understands Everosurce customers across New England are concerned about energy costs this winter, and he acknowledged that it “promises to be expensive” for customers who did not lock in multi-year contracts with third party electric suppliers when rates were lower in previous years.
“While any increase in these times is difficult for our customers, we were looking at much more significant increases a month or two ago before the recent pullback in natural gas prices,” Nolan said.
Without locking in a multi-year contract, options on Connecticut’s third-party electric supplier market Energize CT may not be better than a 40 percent increase on Eversource bills.
With any contract longer than 6 months, customers also run the risk that they would end up paying more when Eversource adjusts its supply rate for the summer, and PURA has warned repeatedly that customers usually end up paying more with a third-party supplier.
Because New England is largely powered by natural gas plants, electricity costs closely follow the market price of gas.
In a news release, Eversource encouraged all of its customers to contact the company at (800) 286-2828 to see if they qualify for payment assistance, even if they don’t think they do.
Customers who have never needed assistance before may not realize they qualify for programs that protect them from having their service disconnection and reduce their overdue balances, but a household of four with an annual income of about $76,000 is eligible, the company said. Eversource is holding three webinars at noon on Nov. 17, Dec. 1 and Dec. 8 to provide more information about available programs, and customers can sign up on the Eversource website.