Unitil raises electricity rates by 25% in New Hampshire

Utilities owned by Unitil Corp. in New England will raise rates on residential customers by about 25% and commercial and industrial users as much as 36% effective Jan.1, 2001. The New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission approved requests by Unitil units, Concord Electric Co. and Exeter & Hampton Electric Co., to adjust rates because of escalating costs of purchased power and natural gas used to fuel power plants.


Utilities owned by Unitil Corp. of New Hampshire will raise rates on residential customers by about 25% and commercial and industrial users as much as 36% effective Jan.1, 2001.

The New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission approved requests by Unitil units, Concord Electric Co. and Exeter & Hampton Electric Co., to adjust rates because of escalating costs of purchased power and natural gas used to fuel power plants.

A typical Concord Electric customer using 500 kwh/month will see a monthly increase of $12.63 or 25% over current rates. Exeter and Hampton customers will see rates increase by $12.55 or 26% over current rates, says George Gantz, spokesman for Unitil.

�This is the first significant change or increase in 10 years,� he says.

The utilities have seen their purchased power costs roughly double this winter. The companies buy all of their power from other generators. After restructuring about two years ago in New England, the utilities don�t own any generation. They buy 80% of their electricity on long term contracts and 20% on the spot market, says Gantz.

�But some of those long term contracts are indexed for the cost of fuel which includes oil and natural gas,� he says. �We have had an unexpected run-up in prices.�

According to data published by the ISO New England, the cost of energy on the spot market one year ago today was about $35/Mw-hr. Today, those costs have more than doubled to $70 to $125/ Mw-hr.

The adjustments asked for by the utilities account for the previous 6 months costs and estimate what the fuel and purchased power adjustments will be in the next 6 months.

Gantz expects the costs of electricity in the wholesale market to drop down in the spring accounting for the rate increase of only 25%.

In July, the utilities asked for an adjustment because of fuel of only 3% to 5%. Gantz adds that the company has not increased its distribution rates since the early 80s.

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