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June 30. 2013 11:40PM

PSNH electric bills should be lower

Residential customers of Public Service of New Hampshire will pay 5.3 percent less for electricity beginning today, the result of a series of decisions by state regulators late last week.

A user of 500 kilowatt hours of electricity per month will now pay $87.75 per month, a reduction of $4.68.

The four rate-setting decisions were released Thursday by the state Public Utilities Commission.

Public Service will reduce its energy service rate by 9.6 percent,. from 9.54 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh) to 8.62 cents, and take a .61 cent reduction in its "stranded cost recovery" fee, which represents some of the costs brought on by the restructuring of the electric energy to promote competition.

However, electric bills comprise of a series of charges for various aspects of a utility's costs and the PUC decisions allowed increases in other charges that are part of PSNH bills.

The company will boost what it charges customers for transmission of electricity from 1.359 cents to 1.714 cents per kWh.

One part of the higher distribution costs paid by consumers will be an increase in charges to consumers for expenses associated with major storms.

PSNH will increase the money it sets aside for major storms every year by $5 million to $12 million annually.

Those costs are part of the company's distribution charge. PSNH said it asked for the increase because of the magnitude and number of major storms in recent years.

During its review of two lengthy mass power outages in the state, the severe ice storm of December 2008 and the Halloween snowstorm in 2011, the PUC recommended that the utility "pre-stage" by bringing in crews and equipment from elsewhere in the country in advance of major storms. In its decision, the commission noted that the company did just that prior to four big storms last winter.

As of today, residential rates charged by PSNH as of today will be 17.55 cents per kWh.

billsmith@unionleader.com


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