By: Eric Anderson |
National Grid said Friday it is seeking increases in its electricity and gas delivery rates following what it said was a decade of stable energy costs. The utility said it has invested $6 billion in making the upstate utility network more resilient and reliable.
The new rates, if approved by the state Public Service Commission, would take effect April 1, 2018. But a PSC spokesman said the increase request would be closely examined. Regulators in the past two years have rolled back several utility rate hike requests.
The typical National Grid residential customer using 600 kilowatt-hours of electricity a month would see the delivery charge rise by 21.8 percent. The bill would rise by $11.23 a month. Natural gas customers using 77 therms a month would see the delivery charge rise by 24.8 percent, or $10.38, a month.
The current rate structure would continue through the end of March. Gas and electric increases combined would cost nearly $22 a month for the typical residential customer.
Consumers pay the cost of the commodity, and a delivery charge. Friday’s rate hike request affects only the delivery portion of consumer bills.
“After more than a decade of rate stability, we fully understand the near term bill impact of this proposal on our customers and will look to phase in that impact while providing enhanced energy efficiency programs and bill management tools, and significantly increasing our support for our most vulnerable low-income customers,” said Ken Daly, National Grid’s New York president. “The proposal is focused on efficiently delivering the investments needed for the long term to achieve our primary object – the safe and reliable delivery of energy for our customers.
“This includes preparing for and responding to severe storms, which are increasing in both frequency and intensity,” Daly added. “It also will allow us to lay the foundation for a sustainable and clean energy future by developing networks capable of serving the next generation of customers.”
The company outlined the following investments it plans for its network:
“Investment of approximately $2.7 billion over the next three years in its core electricity and gas networks across upstate New York. This includes investments that will allow the company to seamlessly connect distributed generation, especially renewable resources. These investments will begin transitioning the traditional utility model to a platform that accommodates a two-way flow of energy and enhances market dynamics.
“Deployment of advanced metering infrastructure for both electricity and gas service that will provide customers enhanced energy consumption data, and more products and services for managing their energy use. Over time, this represents more than two million new smart meters being placed into service.
“New demonstration projects, including initiatives to test smart home technologies and a distributed generation cost-recovery model.
“Investments in the natural gas systems that will mitigate regional capacity constraints, expand availability of gas service, and improve the safety and reliability of the distribution network. This includes the retirement of 150 miles of leak-prone pipe over three years.
“Increased customer assistance and energy affordability programs for those having difficulty managing their energy costs, including a new initiative to increase enrollment in energy affordability, energy efficiency and gas safety programs by more than 50,000 customers.
“Continued deployment of economic development and energy efficiency programs that help grow the upstate economy.
“Adding more than 280 jobs over the next three years to support electric and gas operations, grid modernization and customer programs. These will be local employees who live and work in the communities we serve and support the regional economy.”
National Grid’s upstate network covers 24,000 square miles and serves 600,000 gas customers and 1.6 million electricity customers. Regulators typically take about 11 months to consider and decide rate change requests, and will seek public comments during the process.
“The purpose of the review will be to ensure National Grid’s rates remain just and reasonable,” said PSC spokesman James Denn. “This detailed review will include a careful and close examination of the company’s proposal by Commission staff, as well as by other interested parties, including National Grid’s customers, and ample opportunities for public comment and public hearings.”
The PSC has rolled back several rate hike requests in past years, including those by Consolidated Edison, Orange & Rockland Utilities, and National Fuel Gas.