Button Up NH at SHS

100 percent supply rate increase will be seen on December power bills

December 5, 2014

by S. Aaron Shamshoyan

Salem residents receiving their electric bills from Liberty Utilities should anticipate a 100 percent supply rate increase, as winter pricing is now in effect.

The increase comes after suppliers monitored electricity consumption over the 2013-2014 winter and found a rise in usage as consumers keep homes heated.

The increase will only be seen on the supply rate and not the bill overall.

Liberty Utilities Communication Specialist John Shore said the increase cost is a result of energy producers increasing rates and that increase is passed off directly to consumers.

“That cost is a pass through cost for us,” he said.  “What we pay, you pay.”

And that payment is expected to be about $40 a month on average across New Hampshire.

Shore said Liberty is a distribution company and not a producer of electricity meaning they are responsible for power lines connecting homes and businesses and billing.  The company does not produce electricity but instead buys it from suppliers, and that is where the increase is coming from.

“We’re just in the distribution business,” he said, adding residents can now choose to purchase their electricity from other suppliers in search of a lower rate.

The good news for consumers is that prices will drop back to summer rates in six months, when the winter billing cycle ends.

Producers are raising costs as demand increases for the winter, both in electricity and natural gas.

Shore said in winter months, consumers increase the demand for natural gas, the fuel used to generate about 50-percent of the region’s electricity, and power stations aren’t guaranteed gas.

When supply to the region reaches capacity, power plants can be cut off, making sure consumers are guaranteed their fuel.  When this happens, some natural gas electricity generators begin to run on more costly oil while others are shut down for the day.

Other costly generators, some powered by jet engines, can be started to augment the grid, but are expensive to operate.

Andy Duncan, an energy professor at the Lakes Region Community College offered energy saving tips to reduce homeowner’s bills this winter.

Ideas included replacing light bulbs with LED options, turning down the hot water temperature and heat, and washing clothes in cold water.

He said energy star appliances and smart sensing power strips could also reduce costs.

Nearly two hundred people attended the event at Salem High School.