Eversource seeks large increase in electric rate

Jake Cote, left, and Nathan Smith, both linemen with Eversource Energy, repair power lines that were knocked down by a storm on Route 10 in Orford, N.H., on Thursday, July 21, 2022. 

Jake Cote, left, and Nathan Smith, both linemen with Eversource Energy, repair power lines that were knocked down by a storm on Route 10 in Orford, N.H., on Thursday, July 21, 2022.  ALEX DRIEHAUS/Valley News staff

By DAVID BROOKS

Monitor staff

Published: 06-14-2024 2:09 PM

Eversource customers will be seeing large increases in their electric bill this year, although exactly how much is hard to say at the moment.

Electric bills have several components. The energy charge, which covers the cost of the electricity actually used by customers, gets the most attention but it makes up only about half the bill. The rest goes toward a number of other fees to cover the cost of building and maintaining the electric grid as well as some other items.

Included in those other fees is the distribution charge. Eversource, the electric utility for more than two-thirds of the state, just filed a request to raise this.

If this is approved, the company says the average New Hampshire home using 600 kWh a month would see its total bill, including the energy charge, increase “about $9 or 7%” on Aug. 1 and another $13, or 10%, on Aug. 1, 2025, although this estimate doesn’t include the company’s proposed increase in the energy charge.

“This rate adjustment would allow Eversource to continue making targeted, thoughtful investments in the electric system like automation technology, tree trimming, and hardening infrastructure against more frequent and severe storms … and further enable the integration of customer solar,” the company wrote in a press release.

State Consumer Advocate Don Kreis, however, says this figure of a 17% hike over two years is misleading because it dilutes the proposed increase in the distribution charge by wrapping it into the total bill.

He wrote in his column for IndepthNH.org that the proposal would let Eversource “increase its revenue from distribution charges by a colossally big 42 percent. That’s not a typo. Forty-two percent!”

Even factoring in step increases that have taken place since the last rise in the distribution rate, he wrote, “the most charitable assessment of the proposed increase in distribution revenues is that it reflects a need to hike distribution rates by 21 percent a year.”

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The proposal for the distribution fee is massive, close to 20,000 pages. Kreis said just downloading it in PDF form nearly overwhelmed the computers at the Office of Consumer Advocate and took almost 24 hours to complete.  The request will be considered by the state Public Utilities Commission.

People or businesses that have joined community power systems to buy electricity from third parties will have to pay any increase in the distribution charge, which is not covered by community power agreements.