Eversource and United Illuminating have announced their summer supply rates, which will bring down customer electric bills significantly from winter rates, but will be higher than any summer in at least the last decade.
The Public Utilities Regulatory Authority announced Friday that the high supply prices that started in January will drop dramatically starting July 1, running through the end of the year.
United Illuminating said the average customer using 700 kilowatt-hours of electricity a month would see their bill decrease about $28 a month. And Eversource said a customer using that amount of electricity would see their bill drop by about $56.
But Eversource Connecticut President Steve Sullivan said in a news release that Connecticut electric customers use 35 percent more electricity in the summer months, from air conditioners, fans and other appliances.
Consumer Counsel Claire Coleman said, while the rate decrease is welcome news, it’s also important for people to understand that their bills could still increase in July if they’re using more power.
Coleman said customers should look at ways to improve their energy conservation and efficiency, to limit how much power they use, especially on hot days this summer. Eversource urged customers to look into its energy efficiency programs, including an in-home visit from a contractor who can install weatherization improvements.
Coleman also noted there are suppliers offering rates on the Energize CT rate board that are even lower than the summer rates approved for Eversource and United Illuminating.
Those third-party suppliers are a good option for people looking to save money this year, but customers must pay attention to the length of their contract and continue to shop the market. A majority of customers using third-party suppliers have paid more for utilities in previous years.
“These third-party rates are often for longer periods than the utility’s standard service rates, and consumers who engage with the market should review all contract terms vigilantly and monitor how their rate compares to standard service rates as they change each July and January,” Coleman said.
Why are prices so high?
Connecticut’s electric companies set supply rates twice a year – the winter rate that covers January 1 through the end of June, and the summer rate from July 1 to the end of the year.
Because of New England’s heavy reliance on natural gas for generating electricity and heating homes, the winter rate is almost always more expensive. And this past January, the winter rates rose to record highs as the war in Ukraine upended global gas markets.
Without the demand for gas to heat homes, supply costs typically go down in the summer. But Sullivan and United Illuminating President Frank Reynolds said the external issues that drove prices to record levels this winter haven’t been fixed, causing higher-than-normal prices this summer and likely leading to similarly high costs next winter.
“The energy market and international factors continue to affect the cost of natural gas, and those impacts are still being felt by our Connecticut customers,” Sullivan said. “This is a good time to think about your energy usage and plan for the likely increases we’ll still experience.”
On average, residential electric customers in Connecticut paid $30 more this January than last January – an increase of about 15 percent – despite using 15 percent less electricity.
Starting July, Eversource’s supply rate will be 13.82 cents per kWh – down from the current rate of 24.17 cents – but about 15 percent higher than the 12.05 cents its customers paid during the second half of 2022.
United Illuminating’s rate will be 14.37 cents – down from the current rate of 21.94 cents – but 35 percent higher than the 10.62 cents its customers paid last summer.
Both will be the highest supply rates customers have paid in the second half of the year since at least 2013, according to data from PURA.