Eversource files request with New Hampshire PUC to update its distribution rates

Published on June 19, 2024 by Dave Kovaleski

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Eversource filed a request with the New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission (PUC) to update its distribution rates.

If approved, customers will see an increase in the distribution rate starting Aug. 1. So, a typical residential electric customer using 600 kWh per month would see a total bill increase of about $9, or 7 percent. Then, on Aug. 1, 2025, residential customers would see an additional increase of about $13, or 10 percent, which is a total increase of about 17 percent over the two years.

This adjustment is necessary to cover past investments. including expenses associated with power restoration efforts, vegetation management, and upgrades to improve system reliability.

“We’re always working to better serve our customers, and as a result, they are experiencing fewer and shorter outages thanks to the strategic investments we’ve made in the communities we serve,” Eversource Senior Vice President for Customer Operations and Digital Strategy Jared Lawrence said. “By implementing innovative technologies – like smart switches – onto the system, more than half of all customer outages last year were restored in fewer than five minutes by our remote system operators outside of severe weather.”

Since Eversource’s last distribution rate review in 2019, the company has invested more than $765 million into its electric distribution system in New Hampshire.

Costs to build and maintain the electric system have increased over time with supply chain challenges exacerbating the rising cost of materials. For example, on average, the cost of a utility pole has increased nearly 30 percent, the cost of a transformer has increased about 130 percent, and the cost for a spool of distribution wire has increased nearly 50 percent since 2019.

“It has been five years since our last base distribution rate review, and our customers have seen greater reliability as a result of those system investments,” Lawrence said. “At the same time, the costs to build and maintain the electric distribution system and serve customers have increased and the distribution rate has not kept pace with those increasing costs.”

As one of the most heavily forested states in the country, trees are the primary cause of power outages in New Hampshire, so the company is investing about $40 million into its comprehensive tree trimming program. In addition, New Hampshire is seeing stronger and more frequent storms resulting in significant damage to the system and increased power restoration costs. Three of the top-10 most impactful storms in the company’s history occurred between December 2022 and March 2023. The request will also further enable investments that Eversource makes to improve system resiliency, including the installation of thicker, stronger poles and wires that help better withstand storm impacts.

Also included in Eversource’s filing is a proposal for Performance-Based Rates (PBR), which establishes metrics to measure performance in customer-focused areas of reliability, customer satisfaction, solar generator interconnections, and others.

In addition, Eversource is scheduled to file its updated Default Energy Service, or supply rate, with the PUC after it receives bids from power generators this week.