- Massachusetts Attorney General and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Martha Coakley asked the Department of Public Utilities to act to “mitigate” winter rate increases, despite the fact that regulators have little control over the volatility of electricity market prices.
- Coakley’s office, which acts as an advocate for utility customers, asked regulators to find ways to control a National Grid rate increase of 37%, scheduled for November, that is expected to add $50 per month to the average Massachusetts household electricity bill. Northeast Utilities, the parent of NStar and Western Massachusetts Electric, is expected to file for comparable winter rate increases.
- Coakley’s letter suggested the DPU could delay the rate increase until May 2015, require utilities to give customers more notice of future rate hikes, mitigate the rate increase by spreading it across the year’s bills, and/or prohibit utilities from imposing future “dramatic” increases like this one.
Coakley’s letter, motivated by multiple consumer complaints and expressed concern for utility customers who have to either pay significantly higher rates imposed late in the year or suffer the cold of winter.
A spokesperson said National Grid shares Coakley’s concerns but opposes her proposal to postpone the rate increase.
A DPU spokesperson said regulators are reviewing the letter and asked utilities to explain their practices and provide input.
The DPU previously approved the National Grid rate increase. It was reportedly based on power bid prices and contained no significant distribution system charge increase.