MERIDEN — Local residents and solar energy consultants are speaking out about steep increases in supply rates that are spiking energy costs for Eversource and United Illuminating customers since the start of the year.
The rate will increase from 12.05 cents kilowatt per hour (KWh) to 24.2 cents per kWh for Eversource customers, which will result in an $84 per month increase for the average user. United Illuminating supply rates will increase from 10.6 cents per kWh to 22.5 cents per kWh, which will result in an $83.09 increase for the average user.
For Anaira Heredia, owner of La Patrona Cafe in Meriden, managing the newly increased electricity bill from Eversource is stressful.
“It’s hard starting a business and having to deal with the increase as well,” Heredia said. “My equipment runs on electricity all the time because I have coolers, and I have to leave it on while I’m not there.”
“Paying double is ridiculous,” she added.
Rob García, solar energy consultant and former Meriden resident, said the supply side is doubling up.
“Basically whatever you paid for in December doubled in one month,” he said. “They always have an excuse whether it’s inflation or because we’re buying from fossil fuel companies.”
On Nov. 17, 2022, Attorney General William Tong released a statement on the supply rate increase.
“Our supply rates always fluctuate between winter and summer, but this is not normal. We are seeing a huge global spike in gas costs due to the war in Ukraine and Russian manipulation of gas supplies,” he said in the statement.
The oil and natural gas markets are global and the price can be affected by many factors. According to Eversource, Russia’s war on Ukraine has created volatile energy markets, putting pressure on oil and natural gas prices. In the United States, New England heavily relies on natural gas.
Steve Sullivan, president of Eversource Connecticut, said in a release: “We know how challenging increased energy costs are for our customers, especially during these times, and want to do everything we can to help. As an energy delivery company, we can’t control the cost of electricity on the supply side of our customer bills, but it is critically important to us to uncover any and all options to provide relief for our customers.”
Gov. Ned Lamont said he is working to advance a short-term customer relief plan to reduce the cost of energy supply prices.
“I appreciate Eversource and UI working with us to identify creative near-term actions that will help provide Connecticut residents with some relief from high energy costs and the significant impending rate increase on January 1.” Lamont said in a statement.
The state’s Energy Action announced on Wednesday, takes short-term and long-term strategies in to consideration to address the cost increase and improve energy affordability, respectively, the state said.
For the short-term plan, Lamont announced that the Connecticut Energy Assistance Program (CEAP) is allowing all participating households that heat with deliverable fuels, such as heating oil, to receive additional crisis assistance. This has a benefit worth $439 this winter season.
The additional benefit means those families can now access up to $2,320 per household to help pay their heating bills, the press release said.
The long-term strategy to improve energy affordability is building a cleaner, affordable, and reliable energy supply, the plan said. This includes offshore wind, hydropower, and nuclear.
Kile Higgins, a Cheshire resident and solar energy consultant at Elite Energy Consulting, advises going solar to reduce the cost of electricity.
“What happens though is not everyone can go solar because their home doesn’t get enough sunlight so they don’t qualify,” she said.
If someone is looking to save money, Higgins encourages them to look into solar energy.
“The customers that I’ve had are very happy with their decision to go solar,” pointed out the solar consultant. Higgins can be reached at email@example.com.