The state Department of Public Utilities on Thursday approved a much-reduced rate hike for Eversource Energy that will allow it to charge its Massachusetts electric customers tens of millions of dollars more a year.
Eversource customers in the eastern part of the state would collectively pay an additional $12 million a year, while rates for its Western Massachusetts customers would rise by more than $24 million a year, according to the DPU. Eversource delivers electricity to some 1.4 million customers in Massachusetts.
However, Eversource had previously sought much higher increases — $90 million for both regions combined.
“Though we’re still reviewing the decision, we’re disappointed with the deep cuts the DPU made to our rate request because we feel we provided sufficient and detailed documentation to support the total increase we requested,” Eversource spokeswoman Caroline Pretyman said in a statement.
But Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, who had strongly opposed Eversource’s request and even recommended the DPU reduce its rates from current levels, decried the decision late Thursday. She said it allowed for additional rate increases after the first year of 3.5 percent annually, “for a total increase of over $220 million over a five-year period.”
“At a time when businesses and residents are already struggling with high energy costs, the DPU’s order chooses unjustified corporate profits over Eversource’s 1.4 million customers. The Department has allowed Eversource to raise rates by hundreds of millions of dollars, instead of imposing the decrease that customers deserve,” Healey added.
The DPU did grant Eversource permission to separately recover from consumers $45 million it plans to spend on infrastructure for electric vehicles, and another $55 million to improve energy facilities on Cape Cod and Martha’s Vineyard. Those costs would be on top of the base distribution rates.
This decision marks the first time Eversource or its predecessor companies have raised electric base distribution rates in the eastern part of the state since 2005, and the first time that base distribution rates changed in the western part since 2010.
State officials said the exact effect on customers remains unclear, though. This decision is the first part of a two-part process, with another one that will determine estimated effects on specific classes of ratepayers coming at the end of the year.Jon Chesto can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @jonchesto.