Southington resident Susan Stamp opened her electric bill from Eversource Energy this month and couldn’t believe the charge.
“I almost had heart failure,” Stamp, 61, said. “I felt like someone kicked me in the stomach and then I just cried.”
Stamp, whose electric bill jumped to $472 from around $270 the previous month, is one of many Eversource customers around the state who saw jumps in their bill this month. She lives lives in 1,100-square-foot house and uses gas for heating and cooking.
The higher bills were caused by an increase in the “generation service charge,” the amount electric generating companies charge Eversource for power, said company spokesman Mitch Gross.
The charge is adjusted every January and July based on how much it costs suppliers to produce electricity. Traditionally, costs go up in January and down in July, Gross said, primarily due to fluctuations in the cost of natural gas.
“We buy power from (generation companies) multiple times a year,” Gross said. “They set the price based on a number of different conditions. This portion, the dollar figure, is what we call a pass through. We don't mark it up at all...It is what our suppliers are charging us and we pass that charge onto our customers.”
Beginning January 1, the generation service charge rose about one cent for every kilowatt hour of energy used by customers, according to Gross. The cost is reflected in the supply portion of each electric bill.
Stamp said paying the additional charges is difficult for and her husband, John. Susan Stamp is retired and cannot work, and John Stamp was laid off six months ago.
Gross said the company has received complaints about the increased costs. A Facebook group titled, “Citizens Unite (Stop Eversource)” was recently created. It has gained over 2,000 members in just a few days.
Because Connecticut’s electricity market is deregulated, Eversource does not generate electricity, but “we do buy electricity for most of our customers and deliver for all of our customers.”
Gross said every Eversource electric customer has the option to choose a different supplier, however, Eversource would still deliver the electricity. To choose a different supplier, Gross said customers can visit energizect.com. About 26 percent of Eversource customers have a different supplier, Gross said.
Many customers have reported having much higher delivery charges on their bill this month, which is separate from the supply charge increase Gross described. Gross said the increase may be caused by customers using more electricity this time of year.
Eversource is also in the process of applying for a three-year, $154.4-million electricity rate increase with the state Public Utilities Regulatory Authority.
Gross said the impact of that proposed rate plan on each resident’s bill will be determined by PURA in coming months. If the rate plan is approved, it would impact the distribution charge per kilowatt hour portion of a consumer’s bill. The rate plan would take effect May 1, if approved.
Earlier this year, Eversource agreed to significantly reduce its proposed three-year rate plan from $337 million to $154 million. Gross said the reduction reflects changes to the federal tax law.
Gross added that Eversource has also applied to PURA to reduce the customer service charge for each bill, which is currently a flat fee of 19.25. Eversource is asking PURA for permission to reduce the fee to $11.88.