During an April 10 Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities (DPU) hearing in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, residents and business owners rallied against an Eversource Energy rate hike request.
Eversource has requested approval to raise delivery rates by more than $96 million next year and $50 million annually for the next four years. For residential customers in the western part of the state, such a rate hike would add $11.64 to the average monthly bill. For those living in the east, the average monthly increase would be $8.45. If approved, these hikes would begin Jan. 1, 2018.
For businesses, the proposal would increase rates up to 37 percent in the west while rates for east-based business would decline.
Eversource claims to need the rate hike to offset an operating deficit of $96 million. Electrical rates for those in Massachusetts are among the highest in the country.
About 275 people packed the April 10 hearing in Pittsfield. The DPU will be hosting similar hearings about the rate hike throughout the state. Many residents and business owners offered strong opposition to the increase. For example, Patricia C. Begrowicz, the president of Onyx Specialty Papers in Lee, Massachusetts, said the increases would raise the amount the company pays for electricity from $775,000 to $1.2 million.
The increases would also affect local governments. For example, Pittsfield’s energy bill would increase $1.3 million under the proposal, according to Pittsfield Mayor Linda Tyer.
The Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey is also seeking to stop the Eversource rate hikes. “It is time to return money to customers, not to raise their electric bills to benefit a highly profitable utility company,” Healy said at the hearing in Pittsfield.