Finding Relief When Massachusetts Energy Prices Increase
We all need energy for day-to-day necessities, but some people pay more for it than others. Massachusetts residents have historically paid more for energy than most Americans, especially in the winter. But this year things are going to be more expensive than usual.
You may have heard that National Grid raised electricity rates substantially on November 1st, and Eversource is expected to do the same. The increase comes as natural gas prices are also on the upswing. Let’s go over what’s behind the energy price hike in Massachusetts and what you can do to find relief.
ENERGY INCREASE QUICK STATS:
- National Grid electric rates increased by 64% on November 1st, 2022.
- National Grid gas prices are set to increase 11-27%.
- Eversource gas prices are estimated to increase 38%.
Why Massachusetts Energy Prices Are Increasing
The latest data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) highlights how expensive energy is in Massachusetts. Back in August 2022 before the rate increases, the average price per kWh in Boston was 28.8 cents. The national average was 16.7 cents per kWh. Massachusetts electricity prices have been 50+% over the national average for at least five years.
The reason for the recent rate hike in Massachusetts is the same as every winter with a few compounding factors. Because Massachusetts (along with most of New England) uses natural gas to generate most of its electricity, prices go up as demand increases in the winter. However, that doesn’t explain the massive 64% increase that National Grid customers can expect to pay in November.
Experts say there are two things at play that are causing energy prices to spike almost everywhere: inflation and the war in Ukraine.
Inflation is causing operation costs to increase, which causes consumer prices to increase. For example, if metal pipes and hydraulic pumps cost more that makes it more expensive to drill for gas. To maintain their profit margins, the cost of the gas that’s produced goes up.
Russia is a major oil and gas supplier, particularly in Europe. But oil is a global commodity, and demand is on a worldwide scale. The lower oil and gas production in Russia means supply is down just as the temperature is dropping and demand is increasing. Supply is so low that leaders in Massachusetts have expressed concern about meeting needs during periods of peak demand.
Natural gas prices have also increased for National Grid and Eversource already. Gas bills are expected to be between $50-$86 more than the same time the year before. That will put monthly gas bills around $220-$260 a month.
Getting Help With Rising Energy Costs in Massachusetts
The news of the energy price increases has led to a lot of concern over people’s ability to pay for power this winter. WBUR estimates that the average household will see their electric bill go from about $179 last winter to $293 this year. The biannual rate adjustments for Eversource are set for January so 1.4 million more Massachusetts energy customers will likely see their rates go up then.
What can Massachusetts customers do to mitigate the rising energy costs?
Make Changes to Use Less Energy This Winter
You can’t control how much the utilities charge per kWh, but you do have control over how much energy you use. Over the years we’ve provided a lot of energy saving tips on the Major Energy blog. Some of the best advice for winter energy savings includes:
Ask Your Utility About Assistance Programs
National Grid and Eversource already have assistance programs for customers that need help paying their energy bills.
National Grid offers payment extensions if you’re having difficulty paying your bill in full. There’s also a payment assistance program and a forgiveness program.
Eversource customers that are past due on their utility bill can set up a payment plan to make the costs more manageable and prevent a disconnection. The supplier also offers an income-based assistance program.
Apply for Assistance Through the State
There are federal and state programs that help people cover the cost of electricity and natural gas. Programs include:
- The Massachusetts Emergency Assistance Program can provide funds for overdue utility bills.
- Energy audits through Mass Save.
- Free energy efficiency improvements for low-income households.
- Massachusetts Association for Community Action can provide local assistance.
- Good Neighbor Energy Fund that can be utilized by people in households with 60-80% of the state median income.
At Major Energy we do everything we can to help customers manage their energy costs. Get energy saving tips every month, assistance selecting an energy plan and fixed rates that make your bills more predictable. See the current energy rates for your area and compare plans in minutes.