After Nov. 1, National Grid electric customers in Massachusetts may be in for a rough surprise.
“On Massachusetts electric bills, our typical residential customer last winter using 600 kilowatt hours would have paid $179,” said Helen Burt, National Grid’s chief customer service officer. “This winter, it’ll be $293. So it’s significant.”
That’s a nearly 64% jump.
The company filed the rate increase, set to go into effect Nov. 1, with the Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs on Wednesday morning.
The cost of electricity on the basic service plan will more than double from last year, spiking from 14.8 cents to 33.9 cents a kilowatt hour, a record high.
National Grid supplies power to 1.3 million customers throughout Massachusetts, largely central, western and South Shore. The news bodes badly for the rest of the state’s electrical customers, though, who aren’t likely to fare much better.
Natural gas was hit first by production disruptions during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic and then further battered by the war in Ukraine, which cut off Russia’s sizable natural gas supply.
Though distributors were hopeful the market would stabilize by fall, Burt said, price bids in September were still skyrocketing.
Natural gas supplies about 40% of U.S. electricity and about 66% of Massachusetts’, as of 2020, leaving the state especially vulnerable to supply and price fluctuations.
Now, Burt added, the company is looking to get ahead of the jump.
“Our concern is getting out in front of this with our customers,” Burt said. “We’re still in September — we still have some time to start to take actions. People can shop for another supplier. People can get on the flexible payment plan. They can get on a discount.”
The company has a “balanced payment plan” option, charging customers consistent rates all year to avoid seasonal spikes, and a flexible payment option, allowing customers to reconfigure payment schedules.
Income-eligible customers, pre-qualified if enrolled in programs like SNAP or Medicaid, can apply directly for a discount of 32% on electric bills and 25% on gas bills. There’s also the Good Neighbor Program, offering utility assistance to people unable to keep up with energy costs, among others.
More options are included in the Winter Customer Savings Initiative page on the National Grid site.
“The bottom line is we understand that this is unexpected and that it will impact household budgets,” Burt said. “And we’re here to help, and we want to get ahead of this.”
Electric increases are likely to be only the start of energy cost burden.
National NEADA estimates show U.S homes that use natural gas for heating may see their bills increase by a third this year, depending on winter weather.