By: Bruce Mohl |

THE PRICE OF ELECTRICITY in eastern Massachusetts is going up this winter to its highest level since 2015.

Eversource Energy said its price for so-called basic service will be nearly 13.6 cents a kilowatt hour this winter in the eastern part of the state, up 0.7 cents from last winter and its highest level since prices hit just over 15 cents a kilowatt hour during the winter of 2015.

For a customer using 550 kilowatt hours a month, the increase will add $3.89 to the power supply portion of their bill compared to last winter, an increase of about 5.5 percent.

Compared to the lower summer/fall basic service price, the price jump is more pronounced. The monthly power supply cost of a typical basic service customer is rising by $12.05, or 19 percent. Eversource officials said the total electricity bill will rise about 8.5 percent.

Customers can buy electricity from any competitive supplier, but many let their utility buy electricity on their behalf. Eversource goes out into the market and, using a bid process, strikes the best deal it can and passes the power and the cost along to its customers. The service is called basic service and the price is set twice a year – once on July 1 and again on January 1 – for six-month periods. The basic service is often representative of retail power prices.

Reid Lamberty, a spokesman for Eversource, said the utility doesn’t generate electricity and has no role in setting the price. He also noted the cost is a strict pass-through to customers and the utility makes no profit on the transaction.

Basic service electricity prices typically spike during winter/spring months and fall back during summer/fall months.

Lamberty said prices are likely higher this winter because generators are grappling with restricted natural gas pipeline capacity in the region and added costs associated with meeting the power grid operator’s reliability standards. He also said Eversource’s customer base for basic service is lower this year because more than 30 municipalities have aggregated their customers together to purchase power on their own.

Sen. Eric Lesser of Springfield issued a press release on Tuesday criticizing Eversource for raising electricity prices ahead of winter and accusing the company of putting profits over people. The senator appeared to have his facts wrong, failing to understand that Eversource doesn’t control the price of electricity. He also seemed to conflate the price increase for basic service with the utility’s periodic request to increase rates for its own services.