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Liberty Utilities, New Hampshire Electric Users to See Savings

Wednesday, April 01, 2015
West Lebanon — Upper Valley residents served by Liberty Utilities and the New Hampshire Electric Cooperative will pay less for electricity come May 1.

The New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission on Tuesday approved Liberty Utilities’ request to decrease its electric energy service rates, and the New Hampshire Electric Cooperative’s board of directors also approved a rate cut.

“This was a difficult winter for our customers, so we are very happy that there will be a significant reduction this summer,” Liberty Utilities spokesman John Shore said in a statement announcing the change.

The typical Liberty residential customer — who uses 655 kilowatt-hours — will see their electric bill decrease by about $46 per month when the new rate kicks in next month.

A NHEC customer who uses about 655 kilowatt-hours will see their monthly bill decrease by about $33.

The new rates are expected to be locked in for roughly six months. They likely will increase again in November, Shore said in the statement.

The Public Utilities Commission on Tuesday approved Liberty Utilities’ March 23 request to decrease its rate by about 55 percent to 7 cents per kilowatt-hour, from the current rate of 15.4 cents.

Meanwhile, New Hampshire Electric approved a decrease of its rates by about 44 percent to 6.5 cents per kilowatt-hour, from 11.6 cents.

The cooperative is self-regulated and only needs approval from its board of directors to change its electric rates, unlike Liberty Utilities, which must receive approval from the state Public Utilities Commission.

“Driving these wide price swings are seasonal variations in the price of natural gas, which is used to generate approximately half of the electricity produced in New England,” NHEC spokesman Seth Wheeler said in a statement. “Natural gas demand increases sharply during the winter months due to its use as a primary heating fuel, which drives up the cost of electricity for winter delivery.”

Liberty Utilities and N HEC purchase electricity on the energy market, resulting in fluctuations in electric rates because the companies have less control over prices.

Liberty Utilities serves customers in several towns in the Lebanon area, an area spanning from Cornish to Hanover and east to Grafton. New Hampshire Electric provides service to a limited area in more than 15 Upper Valley towns, including Plainfield, Enfield, Canaan, Lyme, Sunapee and Unity.

Eversource Energy, formerly Public Service of New Hampshire, which serves some customers in the Newport/Claremont area as well as Lyme, Orford, Piermont and Haverhill, is on a different rate-setting schedule than the other providers and won’t adjust its small business and residential rate until July, according to Eversource Energy spokesman Martin Murray.

Murray predicts Eversource’s rate to stay steady at about 10.6 cents per kilowatt-hour.

Eversource Energy generates its own power, giving the company more control over its rates, Murray said.

“Our rate is much more steady and is not as volatile,” Murray said, noting that Eversource Energy customers may pay more in the summer months, but don’t suffer from large electric bill increases in the winter.

Jordan Cuddemi can be reached at jcuddemi@vnews.com or 603-727-3248.




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