- The Department of Public Utilities (DPU) has approved rate increases for Eversource utilities NSTAR Electric Co. and Western Massachusetts Electric Co., though regulators significantly trimmed the requested increase to revenue requirements.
- The DPU's decision last week authorized a $12.3 million increase for NSTAR, about 78% lower than the utility requested; for WMECo, regulators approved a $24.1 million increase, about 30% lower than requested. Eversource had requested a combined increase of roughly $90 million.
- The order also includes $45 million in investments in electric vehicle infrastructure, and authorizes up to a $15 million investment to construct a 5 MW energy storage facility on Martha’s Vineyard and up to $40 million to construct a 12 MW energy storage facility on Cape Cod. Regulators say the rate increases will help the utilities invest in clean energy technologies, reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, and improvements in infrastructure resiliency, service reliability and quality, and customer satisfaction.
Neither the utility nor state's consumer advocate is happy with Massachusett's decision in the electric rate case. An Eversource spokesperson said the utility company is disappointed in the reduced increases.
“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.
On another front, the Massachusetts attorney general had fought for an overall decrease in rates and expressed disappointment in the rate hike.
“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," Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey said in a statement.
Healy was strongly opposed to the utility's first year rate hike, as well as a series of additional automatic rate increases. As proposed, Eversource requested a 20% rate hike that would have raised customers’ rates by $284 million, including a $96 million increase in the first year and then an additional $188 million over the next four years. Healey also said her office was disappointed that the increase includes a 10% shareholder return, "one of the highest in the country," according to the statement.
The decision is the first step in a two-phase rate case, with a rate design order slated to be issued later this month.
DPU also approved a performance-based ratemaking mechanism which regulators say aims to balance funding grid modernization with avoiding constantly increasing rate case expenses and rate redesigns.
Department of Public Utilities Chair Angela O’Connor said in a statement that by reducing the rate increases proposed by Eversource, the order "ensures safe and reliable electric service for ratepayers across the Commonwealth while minimizing financial impacts on customers."
The order also includes $45 million in investments in electric vehicle infrastructure, and authorizes up to a $15 million investment to construct a 5 MW energy storage facility on Martha’s Vineyard and up to $40 million to construct a 12 MW energy storage facility on Cape Cod. Those investments are meant to stave off the need for additional wire projects, including a new cable from the mainland to Martha’s Vineyard.