PSNH seeks small increase in winter electric rates

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CONCORD, New Hampshire — Customers of Public Service Company of New Hampshire will likely pay an extra $5 to $7 per month for electricity starting in January, the utility announced Monday.

The Public Utilities Commission must approve the rate increase, submitted by PSNH on Monday. The increase is higher than PSNH officials predicted it would be in September, but significantly lower than rate increases from two competitors, Liberty Utilities and Unitil. Both of those companies will nearly double their electric prices this winter, to about 15.5 cents per kilowatt hour. PSNH's rate is jumping from 9.87 to 10.56 cents per kilowatt hour. The $5.50 cost increase for using 500 kilowatt hours of electricity per month is higher than the 50-cent increase PSNH predicted in September.

Prior to these increases, PSNH had a higher rate than Unitil or Liberty. PSNH is isolated from the large spikes its competitors face in winter because the utility generates most of its own energy. In cold weather, natural gas — which more of the state is relying on — becomes scarce, causing prices for electric companies who purchase energy on the open market to rise.

On average, PSNH customers use 600 kilowatt hours of energy per month, which will cost $114 if the new rates are approved. PSNH services about 428,000 residential customers in New Hampshire, spokesman Martin Murray said. The utility has about 500,000 total customers statewide including non-residential customers.

If the PUC approves the request, the rate hikes will take effect Jan. 1.

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