In a press release out yesterday, the House of Representatives Energy & Commerce Committee warned there was bad news for New England households and businesses: electricity supplier National Grid told customers that they can expect to see significantly higher power bills this winter.
The company is urging consumers to conserve energy to prepare for the cold temperatures and high rates up ahead. Due to increases in the cost of electricity generation, National Grid expects retail power prices in Massachusetts to be nearly 40 percent higher this winter from the high prices of last year’s polar vortex. According to a recent press release:
“Starting in November, a typical residential customer will see an electric bill that is 37 percent higher than last winter for the same amount of electricity used,” the company said in a press release.
A major contributing factor to higher electricity prices along the East Coast is the lack of adequate pipeline infrastructure needed to carry natural gas supplies to homes and businesses in the region, the committee said. This problem is compounded by the fact that more utilities are switching from coal to natural gas as EPA regulations force coal-fired power plants to retire prematurely. According to National Grid, “With about half of New England’s electricity generation now fueled by natural gas, electric commodity prices have risen again this winter because of continued constraints on the natural gas pipelines serving the region, which decrease natural gas availability at times of peak demand, causing some generators to buy gas on the spot market at higher prices, switch over to alternate fuels or not run at all.”
The committee said the House passed H.R 1900, the Natural Gas Pipeline Permitting Reform Act, which would facilitate the construction of natural gas pipelines by cutting red tape and modernizing the permitting process. The House has also acted to protect a diverse and affordable electricity portfolio, pushing back on expensive new federal regulations that would limit fuel choices and make power even more expensive. According to the EIA, electricity prices are increasing at the highest rate in five years, and rates are expected to continue to climb as new regulations are finalized and implemented.
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