Electricity prices will double

Published: 06/14/2022 17:15:22

Modified: 06/14/2022 17:13:06

One of the state’s major utilities is expected to double the price of electricity in August, and it’s likely that other utilities will also be forced to raise prices. Price increases are driven by expected high natural gas costs.

In a Monday deposit with the Public Utilities Commission, Liberty Utilities proposed to raise the price of electricity per kilowatt hour from 11.11 cents, the rate in effect from February to July this year, to 22.23 cents from July.

This means that a typical household would see its electricity bill increase by 47%, according to consumer advocate Don Kreis. (Other charges on the bill would remain unchanged.) A household currently paying $150 per month would see its electricity increase to $220 per month.

“I think people are really going to feel that in their wallets. It’s going to be a very unpleasant winter for everyone in New Hampshire,” Kreis said, adding that low natural gas prices have lulled the state and region into complacency for the past decade.

These low prices have evaporated, with some natural gas prices reaching $8.78 per British thermal unit in May, the highest they have been since 2008. Projections show the cost has more than tripled to $30 per Btu.

New England depends on natural gas to generate electricity and heat homes and businesses, and rising prices are driving up costs for both. The highest prices coincide with the cold winter months, when natural gas is in demand for home heating.

Kreis expects the commission to approve the proposed rates later this week, as the process followed the usual route of adjusting electricity rates. What is atypical is the “extraordinarily high price” of electricity, which represents the largest price increase Kreis knows of since the deregulation of utilities in 1996.

The state’s largest utility, Eversource, is expected to submit a similar filing soon that will likely also reflect a significant rate increase. Another utility, Unitil, has a different schedule for adjusting fares and in June set summer fares at 10.12 cents, 3 cents higher than a year earlier. The more expensive winter pricing, which will have to take into account the high cost of natural gas, will only come into effect in December.

The proposed rate increase comes on the heels of a costly winter heating season and means energy costs are likely to remain a challenge over the coming winter.

“I can just hope it inspires us to become more innovative and creative and to look at ways to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels for one thing, and our dependence on energy in general for another,” Kreis said.

Edward N. Arrington