Archive for November, 2015

National Grid is proposing a two-step process for raising its distribution rates. In the fall of 2016, the company is proposing to raise the monthly charge for residential customers to $5.50 plus a single rate of 5.5 cents a kilowatt hour for electricity usage, which works out to a total monthly charge of $33 for the typical customer, an increase of $7.50 over the current rate.

In early 2017, the company wants to start charging 4.2 cents a kilowatt hour and a tiered monthly customer charge based on usage — $6 for those using less than 250 kilowatt hours a month, $9 for those using between 251 and 600 kilowatt hours, $15 for those using 601 to 1,200 kilowatt hours, and $20 for those using more than 1,200 kilowatt hours. For the customer using 500 kilowatt hours, the tiered rate structure would yield a charge of $30.

Company officials said the rate changes proposed for 2017 would bring in the same total amount of money as those proposed for 2016, but a greater percentage of the money with the 2017 changes would come from fixed fees.

Electricity supply costs have been volatile the last two years, while distribution charges have not increased since 2009 at National Grid. Company officials said National Grid’s overall distribution charges need to rise $143 million, or nearly 22 percent, to cover higher costs the company is facing today. Marcy Reed, president of National Grid Massachusetts, said the company’s property taxes have doubled to $58 million over the last six years, while the cost of utility poles and transformers has increased 9 and 20 percent, respectively. She said labor and other costs have also increased.

[ed. note] Of course the 44 million they spent on the Worcester pilot isn’t mentioned in a cost they must pass on to us, the customer. And why would they go ahead with the smart meter which is supposed to alert folks to how much electricity they are using. They will find out soon enough anyway with this tiered pricing and get incentive to cut their usage if possible!

The National Institute for Science, Law & Public Policy report calls Smart Meters “a canard—a story or hoax based on specious claims about energy benefits.” It goes on to say, “Congress, state, local governments, and ratepayers, have been misled about the potential energy and cost saving benefits paid for in large part with taxpayer and ratepayer dollars.”

Lisa Madigan, Illinois Attorney General writes, “Utilities have shown no evidence of billions of dollars in benefits to consumers from these new meters. The utilities want to experiment with expensive and unproven technology, yet all the risk will lie with consumers. The pitch is that smart meters will allow consumers to monitor their electrical usage, helping them to reduce consumption and save money. Consumers do not need to be forced to pay billions for smart technology to know how to reduce their utility bills. We know how to turn down the heat and shut off the lights.”

Judge O’Connell of the Michigan Appellate Court writes in an opinion on an opt-out-rate case, “The Public Service Commission and Consumers Energy advance the notion that smart meters will save the public money on their utility bills.  Unfortunately, this argument is inherently illogical:  how can smart meters save money when Consumers seeks to add millions of dollars to the base rate to fund the AMI [Smart Meter] program?  It appears, as the Attorney General argues and as in other states, that the smart meter program actually increases rates.”

The Baltimore Sun

The fee to opt out of a smart meter could be cut after more people than anticipated declined the meters.

The Maryland Public Service Commission will consider this week cutting the monthly fee Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. customers must pay to opt out of having smart meters installed after the utility reported that the number of people opting out is more than three times what was anticipated.

BGE instituted a fee of $11 a month, plus a $75 one-time fee, for customers who choose not to have the meters installed to pay for the cost of maintaining two systems. But, with more customers opting out than expected, the overall cost of maintaining the smart meter system and the analog system now may be lower than expected, according to BGE.

BGE began replacing analog gas and electric meters in 2012 and has mostly completed the task. But two challenges remain: customers whose meters are inside or not easily accessible and so cannot easily be replaced, and those who decline the new meters because they fear it will harm their health or privacy.

The PSC, which issued the order to allow customers to opt out estimated that about 1 percent would do so, a rate similar to that in other states with smart meters.

Instead, BGE said, the rate has hovered between 3.8 percent and 4.15 percent, or more than 51,000 people, as BGE continues the installations. The number changes as customers move in and out of BGE’s service area.

The PSC will meet Thursday to consider lowering the fees as part of a “true up” 18 months after BGE began levying the fees. The PSC ordered BGE to report on opt-outs and costs in order to align the fee with actual costs.