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NHEC Approves 14.2% Winter Rate Increase

October 31, 2016 By Cheryl Kaften

The New Hampshire Electric Cooperative (NHEC) Board of Directors has approved a rate increase effective with bills rendered November 1. The increase will result in an overall bill increase of 14.2 percent, or $12.69 per month, for a typical residential member using 500 kilowatt-hours (kWh) per month.

Driving the rate changes, NHEC said, are increases in the Regional Access Charge (for delivery into New England) and Coop Power (for actual energy usage) portions of members’ bills. NHEC is a member-owned electric distribution cooperative that serves 84,000 residential and business customers in 115 New Hampshire communities.

“The same conditions that have caused New England electric rates to spike for the past four winters are still to blame for this latest seasonal increase,” the cooperative commented in an official statement, adding, “The driver of winter electric prices is the cost of natural gas delivery into New England. Nearly half of the electricity produced in New England is generated by natural gas.

“Though the price of natural gas at the wellhead remains relatively low,” NHEC noted, “a continuing lack of adequate gas pipeline capacity into New England means that power producers will be competing again this winter with home heating for limited natural gas supplies. This causes a significant winter increase in the price of natural gas delivered to New England, which corresponds to an increase in the price of wholesale electricity.”

According to a report in the Manchester Union Leader, “The announcement is in sharp contrast to one made earlier this year by NHEC — a decrease of 43 percent in the energy supply portion of electric bills, from 9.5 cents per kWh to 5.3 cents, from May 1 through November 1.”

The local news outlet said that calls placed to an NHEC spokesperson for comment were not returned last week.

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