Well, in a report from the “What comes down, must go up” file, the Wallingford Electric Division will be raising their rates, just 60 days after giving their winter rate decrease. The Public Utilities Commission voted unanimously to approve a clause that would allow it to adjust electric rates beyond its normal twice yearly recalculation process. The new rates will go into effect in February.
We reported here back in May when they raised the rates for the summer and then added another increase on top of it; then we reported here in October when they lowered rates for the winter season. Now, Wallingford Electric is deciding to pass on what they are calling an “error in calculation” by the company they buy their electricity from, CMEEC (Connecticut Municipal Electrical Energy Cooperative), to their customers in the form of a 9% increase. For the median residential customer who uses about 700 kWh of electricity a month at cost of $89.00, this will mean an additional $7.94 tacked on to their bill in 2009. And even though the rate hike won’t take effect until February, this delay is only because the PUC is using some of its reserve funds to accomplish it. The Commission says that consumers should keep in mind that, even with the rate increase, Wallingford Electric charges some of the lowest power rates in the state, and will continue to do so.
The Commission also wanted to point out that this increase is not going into their coffers, but is a “pass-thru” charge, necessitated by transmission and capacity charges generated by a number of new projects undertaken throughout the region by the New England Independent System Operator, or ISO-NE. And because ISO-NE has even more projects coming up, the PUC says that customers should “get used to the idea of further increases in their electric bills in the years to come”. That is contrary to what Commissioner George Adair indicated back in October when the winter rate decrease was announced. He stated then that he was cautiously optimistic that next summer’s peak energy cost would also be lower.
Wallingford Mayor William Dickinson isn’t happy about the situation, saying that in his opinion, the system is broken and favors the supplier to the detriment of the consumer. Mr. Mayor, we couldn’t agree more.
So, it will be interesting now to see if Commissioner Adair’s cautiously optimistic prediction regarding next summer’s electric rates will come to pass, or if the time of summer energy savings is a thing of the past.