Are you curious about the recent electric rate increase and how it will affect your energy costs? Look no further, as we have representatives from Belmont Light, Aiden and Ben, here to provide valuable insight and advice on how to save on energy expenses during the winter season. In this article, we will delve into the details of electric rates, the reasons for the rate increase, approved rates for 2023, comparisons with neighboring towns, and valuable winter energy-saving tips.
Understanding Electric Rates
To understand electric rates better, let’s take a look at the charges listed on your billing statement. There are three main categories of charges that contribute to your electric rates:
- Generation and Transmission Charges: These charges are associated with producing and delivering electricity to your location.
- Distribution Charges: This includes the cost of taking the electricity from the source and delivering it to homes, businesses, and other buildings.
- Conservation Charges: These charges are used to fund energy efficiency programs, rebates, and initiatives to promote conservation.
- Customer Charges: Customer charges cover expenses such as metering and salaries.
A breakdown of a typical residential customer’s bill reveals that over 50% of the bill goes towards generation and transmission charges, approximately one-third goes towards distribution charges, and less than 10% covers the customer charge.
Reasons for Electric Rate Increase
There are three main factors contributing to the need for an electric rate increase:
- Cyclical Nature: Every three to five years, a cost of service study is conducted to assess the need for rate adjustments. The most recent study in 2018 identified the need for an increase, but due to the pandemic, it was not fully implemented until now.
- Rising Costs: Inflation and supply chain issues have led to increased distribution and other costs. Additionally, energy prices, particularly natural gas prices, have been increasing globally, affecting rates.
- Market-driven Costs: Factors beyond Belmont Light’s control, such as geopolitical conflicts and global energy prices, influence the overall costs and necessitate rate adjustments to cover expenses.
Approved Rates for 2023
Belmont Light has reviewed and approved the rates for 2023. The rate increases aim to fulfill three primary goals:
- Covering Costs: The increase ensures that Belmont Light can adequately cover its costs and maintain efficient operations.
- Infrastructure Preparation: With anticipated increased costs for infrastructure, such as supply chain challenges and inflation, it is crucial to prepare for these future expenses.
- Addressing Increased Energy Prices: Higher energy prices, influenced by global factors, require adjustments to keep up with the market rates.
The approved rates show a 3.4% increase in Belmont Light’s driven costs, including customer and distribution charges. Market-driven costs, influenced by factors like geopolitical conflicts, contribute to a 9.8% increase. When combined, the overall rate increase amounts to 13.2%. It is important to note that these figures are based on a monthly usage of 500 kilowatt hours, and individual results may vary.
Comparisons with Neighboring Utilities
To provide context, let’s compare Belmont Light’s rates with neighboring utilities, such as Eversource, National Grid, and Unitil. These investor-owned utilities generally have higher rates and significantly larger rate increases compared to Belmont Light.
Eversource, for example, faces an estimated 40% increase, while National Grid is looking at a 64% increase in rates. Unitil’s rate increase is slightly lower at about 15.5%. In contrast, Belmont Light’s rate increase of 13.2% remains relatively lower, reflecting the advantages of a public power utility that strives to maintain steady and competitive rates.
Calculating Your Increased Bills
Belmont Light has developed a calculator that allows you to determine the impact of the rate increase on your bills. By entering your usage data for one, two, or three months, the calculator calculates your average bill for 2022 and estimates your anticipated bill for 2023. The calculator also provides a comparison with rates from National Grid and Unitil. Although eversource rates are not yet available, they will be added once confirmed.
This calculator serves as a valuable tool for understanding the financial implications of the rate increase on your utility bills. It can be accessed on the Belmont Light website and is available for all customers to use. Customer service representatives are also available to assist with any questions or concerns regarding the calculator.
Winter Energy-Saving Tips
As winter approaches, it becomes crucial to adopt energy-saving practices. Here are some valuable tips to help you reduce your energy consumption and save on costs during the cold months:
- Schedule a Free Energy Assessment: Take advantage of the free energy assessments offered by Belmont Light’s vendor, Energy New England. These assessments can be conducted virtually or in-person and provide valuable insights and recommendations for improving energy efficiency in your home.
- Weatherization Incentive Program: Eligible Belmont Light customers can participate in the weatherization incentive program, which offers rebates for home improvement projects recommended during the energy assessment. The program covers costs for attic insulation, wall insulation, air sealing, and duct sealing, with rebates ranging from $75 to $1,000.
- LIHEAP Programs: Customers can also explore programs such as the Heating Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) and the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP), available through the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). Additionally, Belmont Light participates in the Good Neighbor Energy Fund, providing assistance to those in need.
- Take Advantage of Rebates: Besides the weatherization incentive program, customers can also explore additional rebates and incentives for energy-efficient appliances through Mass Save, a statewide energy efficiency program.
- Energy Conservation Habits: Adopt simple energy-saving habits, such as adjusting thermostats to lower temperatures when away from home, sealing air leaks, using energy-efficient light bulbs, and properly insulating windows and doors.
By implementing these energy-saving tips, you can significantly reduce your energy consumption and lower your utility bills during the winter season.
In conclusion, understanding the electric rate increase and adopting energy-saving practices are crucial for managing your energy costs effectively. Belmont Light’s communication coordinator, Aiden Leary, and energy specialist, Ben de Verge, have provided valuable insights into the factors behind the rate increase, comparisons with neighboring utilities, and helpful winter energy-saving tips.
Remember, staying informed and implementing energy-efficient measures can contribute to both a greener future and potential savings on your utility bills. With Belmont Light’s commitment to public service and providing competitive rates, you can navigate the upcoming winter season with confidence.