BERLIN – While customers are experiencing some relief with lower energy prices this summer, the electric supply rate is expected to increase again in January as energy costs remain at some of the highest levels in years.
International factors continue to affect the seasonal winter cost of natural gas, which is used to produce roughly half of New England’s electricity, reinforcing the volatility of the energy market plaguing Connecticut residents.
To help customers save during this time, Eversource is launching an educational campaign to reach as many people as possible through digital advertising, media and social media, customer emails, billboards and website messages to encourage them to compare rates being offered by third-party suppliers on Energizect.com.
Those who’ve never shopped before can find help navigating the process to shop, sign up, and save by going to Eversource.com/supplier.
The educational campaign is one way Eversource is working to make energy bills more affordable for customers and follows the energy company’s announcement last week of a new Low-Income Discount Rate available for Connecticut financial hardship customers beginning in December.
“While we did see some customers move away from Standard Service to a third-party supplier during the historically high rates last winter, we hope more customers will take advantage of the lower rates available to them sooner,” said President of Eversource Connecticut Electric Operations Steve Sullivan. “We want to make sure our customers know that lower energy supply prices are out there, and they can save money on their energy bill by shopping around. The sooner customers sign up, the sooner they can lock in lower rates, and they can avoid the price spike expected in January, so we’re encouraging customers to shop, sign up, and save through EnergizeCT.com.”
As of the end of August, about 23 percent of Connecticut residential customers were signed up with a third-party supplier with the rest on Standard Service — the energy Eversource purchases on the open market on behalf of customers with no markup. In Connecticut, that rate changes twice a year — January 1 and July 1. The energy company plans to file a new Standard Service rate with Connecticut’s Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA) in mid-November, which would take effect in January.
While the supply rate will increase from the current 13.82 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh), it’s not expected to be as high as last winter’s rate of 24.17 cents per kWh. A customer’s total bill will depend on how much energy is used, their rate category, and weather conditions.
For customers who want to switch, EnergizeCT.com is the only site approved by regulators to shop for energy in Connecticut. Before signing up with a third-party supplier, it’s important to carefully read over the contract and know what the offered rate is and how long it is available.
Eversource encourages customers to regularly check energy supply prices throughout the year to make sure they’re still getting the best deal and to remember that in Connecticut they can switch to another supplier or go back on Standard Service before their contract ends, without penalty.
“Now is the time to shop and plan. There are third-party suppliers currently offering low rates with contracts that extend through the winter months,” Sullivan said. “Customers have the ability to take control of their energy costs, and we hope they will.”
Help Is Available
Eversource also encourages customers to enroll in one of its payment plans or assistance programs if they need help with their energy bill. Customers can call Eversource at 800-286-2828 or visit Eversource.com/billhelp to find the right plan for them and enroll online.
*Budget Billing Plan helps avoid seasonal spikes on your energy bill by letting customers pay a fixed amount each month based on their average annual usage.
*The Matching Payment Program can lower the amount customers owe on energy bills. For every dollar they pay and every dollar they receive from the Connecticut Energy Assistance Program, Eversource will subtract a dollar from the amount owed.
*The New Start Program forgives overdue balances for electric customers as on-time monthly budget payments are made. (For example, if your budget payment amount is set at $150 per month and your past due balance is $1,200, for every month you make your required $150 payment towards your bill, Eversource will reduce your past-due balance by $100.)
*Payment Plans are available to all customers to help pay their past-due balance over a period of time.
*A new Low-Income Discount Rate will take effect December 1, which can give customers with financial hardship either a ten percent or 50 percent discount off their electric bill per month. Customers can qualify to receive the discount based on household income or receipt of a public assistance benefit. For example, if a customer has a $100 monthly bill, it would be $10 less if they receive a ten percent discount or $50 less if they receive the 50 percent discount.
State regulations are being updated to enable customers with a hardship status on their account to switch to a third-party supplier beginning early next year. The energy company is also working with state regulators and evaluating the system changes needed to enable hardship customers to choose a third-party supplier and also receive the Low-Income Discount Rate.
Customers can opt out of financial hardship or medical protection status in order to enroll with a supplier before January 1 by completing a form at Eversource.com/supplier