New Hampshire Electric Cooperative’s (NHEC) Board of Directors has approved changes to the Co-op Power rate and Regional Access Charge, which will result in an overall bill increase for most residential members of about 17%, or $17.19. The new rates will take effect with bills rendered on or after November 1.
The Co-op Power portion of members’ bills will increase from the current summertime rate of 6.5 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh) to 9.8 cents per kWh for the winter. The Co-op Power charge includes the cost that NHEC pays to purchase electricity from the wholesale electricity market. The cost of this power is directly passed through to members who have not chosen to purchase electricity from a competitive supplier. NHEC does not add any additional charges or fees to its Co-op Power rate, and the rate does not fund NHEC’s operations. Last November, NHEC set its winter rate at 7.8 cents per kWh.
The primary reason for the increase is a sharp spike in the price of natural gas over the past several months. Natural gas prices are now double what they were last year at this time. Natural gas-fueled power plants account for more than half of the generating capacity in New England, meaning the market price of electricity often follows the cost of natural gas.
“Natural gas and electricity prices in New England are closely linked,” said Brian Callnan, NHEC Vice President of Power Resources and Access. “As the price of natural gas has risen over the past several months, so has the cost to purchase electricity to serve our members.
“We know this increase will be difficult for our members, as it will be for electric and gas customers throughout New England, and we will continue to work hard to find opportunities to reduce energy costs wherever we can.”
NHEC members who have difficulty paying their bills are encouraged to contact the Co-op at 800 698-2007. NHEC can help members set up payment arrangements, connect them with financial assistance, as well as energy efficiency and weatherization programs, which can reduce their energy usage and lower their bills.
In addition, NHEC members can take advantage of competitive supply options for electricity service, which can be compared at the New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission website at PUC.NH.gov. Members can also view and manage their electric usage online through NHEC’s website at NHEC.com or by downloading the SmartHub app for mobile or PC.
The November 1 rate changes will also include a 2% increase in the Regional Access Charge portion of members’ bills. The Regional Access Charge includes the costs NHEC pays transmission companies to deliver electricity to its distribution system. The rate change also includes the state-required refund of Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) proceeds.
As with the Co-op Power rate, the costs NHEC incurs from transmission companies are passed directly through to members without additional fees or charges.
NHEC is a member-owned electric distribution cooperative serving 85,000 homes and businesses in 118 New Hampshire communities, including Andover.