Regulatory rate review required to update company delivery rates
BOSTON – In a move that will allow Eversource to expand its commitment to reliability and clean energy technologies, the company today filed a request with the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities to update its base distribution rates as part of a longer term plan to deliver the benefits of a modernized grid to customers. The proposal makes possible the recovery of costs associated with delivering top-tier reliability and launches a Grid-Wise Performance Plan – a vision of designing and implementing a smarter, more technologically-advanced energy grid, better able to meet increasing customer expectations and align with clean energy policy goals.
“Customers are experiencing fewer and shorter outages as a result of our smart investments in sophisticated technology,” said Craig Hallstrom, President of Massachusetts Electric Operations at Eversource. “We’ve also worked hard to improve reliability for customers with efforts like our enhanced tree trimming programs, all while holding the line on rising costs. Now, we’re proposing to increase that commitment and utilize the latest engineering advances – including electric vehicle infrastructure and energy storage systems – for the benefit of customers.”
The requested change in base distribution rates is required by law and locks in annual operating cost savings of $30 million resulting from the 2012 merger between NSTAR and Northeast Utilities.
Over the last 10 years, Eversource’s distribution rates have remained stable due to efficient cost management while electric reliability has improved. This is particularly notable in comparison to increasing electric supply prices. The revised rates would incorporate the costs of capital investments made to achieve top-tier reliability performance.
Details of the Eversource Grid-Wise Performance Plan include increased deployment of advanced automated devices and technology to reduce the frequency and duration of power outages; an energy storage pilot program to demonstrate the viability of storage options and promote adoption of storage technologies; an enhanced electric-grid management system; tools for the integration of distributed energy resources; and an electric vehicle charging infrastructure program to meet the growing needs of green transportation in Massachusetts.
"Investments by Eversource are important to help address some of the critical gaps in EV charging infrastructure, such as multi-unit dwellings, workplace charging, DC fast charging along major highways, and solutions for disadvantaged communities," said Daniel Gatti, policy analyst for the Union of Concerned Scientists. "In addition, utilities can have a critical role in increasing consumer awareness of the benefits of electric vehicles and the many policies the state and federal government have in place to promote EVs. We look forward to working with Eversource and other stakeholders to refine their proposal and ensure that it meets the needs of all Massachusetts EV drivers with the hope of securing approval from the Department of Public Utilities for new infrastructure."
As Eversource works to continually modernize its electric system, a focus on cyber security has become increasingly important. Now more than ever, the company is investing in advanced technology solutions to protect the integrity of the grid along with the more traditional investments aimed at upgrading it.
“Our customers are expressing increasing interest in playing a more active role in their energy management with solar panels and other technologies,” Hallstrom added. “Our plan includes the tools to help make the integration of solar safer and more streamlined.”
Eversource is requesting new delivery rates to alleviate a revenue deficiency of roughly $60 million for the company’s Eastern Massachusetts service area. For residential customers in that area, the new distribution rates would add approximately 7 percent or $8.45 to the monthly bill of a typical residential customer using 550 kilowatt hours of electricity.
Eversource’s proposed distribution rate adjustments are based on actual operation and maintenance cost deficiencies for a test year ending June 30, 2016. The DPU will now thoroughly review the company’s request, which will include soliciting and considering public comments, before making a final decision by the end of this year. If approved, the new rates would go into effect January 1, 2018.
Eversource (NYSE: ES) transmits and delivers electricity and natural gas to 1.7 million customers throughout Massachusetts, including approximately 1.4 million electric customers in 140 communities and 300,000 gas customers in 51 communities. Recognized as the top U.S. utility for its energy efficiency programs by the sustainability advocacy organization Ceres, Eversource harnesses the commitment of its approximately 8,000 employees across three states to build a single, united company around the mission of safely delivering reliable energy and superior customer service. For more information, please visit our website (www.eversource.com) and follow us on Twitter (@eversourceMA) and Facebook (facebook.com/EversourceMA.)