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National Grid electric bills expected to rise, gas bills expected to drop

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WALTHAM, MA. – As temperatures drop, energy consumption and wholesale energy prices can increase. With the winter heating season about to begin, National Grid is encouraging customers to evaluate their energy needs, take advantage of efficiency programs and consider payment options that help manage their electricity and gas bills.

Energy supply prices change annually Nov. 1. National Grid this year is forecasting lower natural gas bills for its 830,000 residential customers and an increase in electric bills for its 1.2 million residential customers.

“New England winters can be unpredictable and now is a good time to plan ahead,” said Marcy Reed, president of National Grid for Massachusetts. “We urge our customers to use energy wisely, take advantage of our nation-leading energy efficiency programs and learn about our many billing options and discount programs.”

Residential Electric Forecast
Both electricity distribution and supply rates change Nov. 1. In total, the monthly bill of a typical residential electric customer using 600 kWh will increase by about $21 to $161 from the average monthly October bill of $140: 15.2 percent. Year over year, bills will be up by about $7. According to National Grid, there are two reasons for this increase. First, distribution rates – through which the company recovers the cost of doing business – change effective Nov. 1.

The Department of Public Utilities last month approved National Grid’s request to change their rates. The DPU decision supports several initiatives in clean energy technologies, infrastructure investments, service reliability and reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. For the average customer using 600 kWh of electricity, this change represents $2 of the overall $21 average bill increase.

The second contributor to the increase, according to National Grid, is a change in seasonal supply rates.

For the average customer, the increase in supply prices will add approximately $19 of the overall $21 increase to a customer’s monthly bill.

Residential Natural Gas Forecast
National Grid annually adjusts its natural gas rates Nov. 1 and May 1 to reflect seasonal differences in the cost of natural gas. Factoring in other rate changes, the company
has a pending proposal with the DPU that would result in a monthly bill for a Boston Gas residential heating customer using 128 therms per month of $190, a decrease of $14, or 7 percent, compared to rates last winter. For a Colonial Gas residential heating customer using 112 therms per month, the typical bill would be $150, a decrease of $9, or 6 percent, compared to rates last winter.

How Can Customers Lower Bills?
Customers can choose to purchase their gas and electricity from an alternate power supplier. Approximately 3 percent of National Grid natural gas customers and 42 percent of National Grid electricity customers procure their energy from competitive suppliers. For those customers, they would pay supply prices agreed to with that supplier. National Grid encourages customers to understand the details of such contracts and review available information at http://www.ngrid.com/masschoice
Whether you use an alternate supplier or not, National Grid will continue to deliver your energy and respond to any issues.

National Grid has issued the following energy efficiency tips:

-Replace five incandescent lights with ENERGY STAR® light bulbs and save $9 a month.

-Turn off lights, appliances, TVs, stereos, and computers when not in use, and save approximately $9 a month.

-Install a programmable thermostat that lowers the setting at night and when no one is home and save $15 a month.

-Unplug electronics with remote control or “instant on” features and save $4 a month. An advanced power strip will do the work for you.

-If you have an electric clothes dryer, clean the filter and straighten the exhaust hose/duct to save $3 a month.

In addition, National Grid provides various billing options for customers, including the Budget Billing Plan that spreads payments out more evenly throughout the year and various payment options for customers who may have difficulty paying their bills.

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