As widely predicted, the cost of energy is going up sharply this winter, including for Eversource electricity customers who are almost certain to face a 25 percent price increase next month, according to a recent filing with state regulators.
In that filing, Eversource asked the state to approve a rate hike due to the increased cost of the electricity it purchases from wholesale suppliers.
As it awaits a decision on its proposed price increase from the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities, Eversource signaled its expectation of approval in an e-mail to customers.
“In January, your electric bill will be higher because of the increased demand for electricity and natural gas,” Eversource wrote, noting that natural gas is often used to generate electricity in the region’s power plants.
The average residential customer who uses 500 kilowatts of electricity a month “could see a 25 percent, or $30, increase to their total bill compared with December,” the e-mail said. According to Eversource, the average residential customer is now paying about $120 a month for electricity, and would climb to about $150 in January with the 25 percent increase.
The cost increases are expected to be slightly less for Eversource customers in Western Massachusetts — about 23 percent, or $27 a month, Eversource said.
Eversource is New England’s largest utility, with more than 1 million electricity customers in Massachusetts, and almost 500,000 natural gas customers statewide.
The vast majority of electricity customers don’t use electricity for heating their homes, instead using natural gas or heating oil.
Eversource increased its natural gas rates, effective Nov. 1. For those customers, the cost of natural gas increased by 12 percent to 21 percent, depending on what service territory they are in, with NSTAR customers on the lower end and Columbia Gas customers on the higher end, Eversource said.
William Hinkle, an Eversource spokesman, said the 25 percent increase now pending before state regulators would be a cost “pass-through,” meaning it reflects the utility’s increased cost of buying electricity without profit.
“The recent soaring global demand for natural gas has been driving up energy prices everywhere as winter approaches,” he said. “Those market conditions are reflected in the recent updated energy supply rate we filed with the DPU.”
The state’s other big electricity utility, National Grid, increased its rates by comparable amounts, effective Nov. 1.
Eversource and National Grid offer partial forgiveness of past-due balances and discounted rates for low-income families. And every household, regardless of income, can reach out to the utilities and set up a 12-month payment plan. As long as the agreed-upon payments are made, their services won’t be cut off.
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