State announces changes to help reduce large swings in electric bills

An effort is underway to crack down on extremely high electric bills experienced by many, especially this past winter.
Published: Sep. 5, 2023 at 1:56 PM EDT
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SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) - An effort is underway to crack down on extremely high electric bills experienced by many, especially this past winter. On Tuesday, the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities announced some big changes to when utility companies can revise rates.

“My wife and I own a victorian, so you can imagine all sorts of utilities, heat and energy, kind of escape out our windows. The bills have been high,” said Jill Monson-Bishop of Springfield.

Monson-Bishop, an Eversource customer, said electricity costs have been high this summer and the heat wave this week could mean even higher bills.

“I have elderly in the home, so we were able to keep warm (during the winter). Now, it’s a matter of, especially with 95-degree weeks, not cranking the air conditioning,” Monson-Bishop added.

Eversource customer and Springfield resident Luis Ortiz said he has not used the air conditioner that much during the summer and his bills have not been too bad. However, he told us his winter bills were high.

“During the winter, the highest bill was $100-something. I think that was a little bit too much, but the heat is on. They say the rates were going to go down,” Ortiz said.

Now, in a new attempt to even out the costs, the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities announced an order on Tuesday which “requires Eversource and National Grid to change their current basic service periods for residential and small business customers to six-month periods of February through July and August through January.” The move comes after an investigation this year revealed rate increases were from wholesale energy market dynamics, including the war in Ukraine and the coldest winter months of January and February during the same period of procurement.

We reached out to the utility companies for reaction. In a statement sent to Western Mass News, an Eversource spokesperson said, in part:

“The department’s order in this docket is consistent with our proposals, and the new schedule…is consistent with the schedule for Eversource customers in New Hampshire. As we transition to this new schedule, we continue to focus on supporting customers who may be struggling with their energy bills with our various payment plans, assistance programs and energy efficiency solutions.

The DPU said this decision is a step to bring down price swings for these customers while heading into the direction of clean energy sources. Both Ortiz and Monson-Bishop thought this is a good idea.

“If it’s going to bring down the cost, even if it’s not a lot, I’m happy. I’ll be happy with that,” Ortiz added.

“I think if they’re attempting to make things better, that there’s some positiveness to look at and examine,” Monson-Bishop noted.

Eversource told us their new rate schedule will go into effect on August 1, 2024

Western Mass News also reached out to National Grid for reaction to this new rate schedule being put into place. We have not yet heard back.