New England electricity prices 47% higher last month than national average
BOSTON -- Households in New England paid electricity prices last month that were 47 percent higher than the national average, according to federal data released Wednesday.
Consumer energy information released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics for its Boston region showed the area's households paid an average of 19.5 cents per kilowatt hour for electricity, compared to the national average of 13.3 cents. The region includes Hampden and Worcester counties as well as Greater Boston and parts of New Hampshire, Connecticut and Maine.
The figures came out one day after energy utility Eversource proposed a 10 percent increase in its electricity distribution rates beginning early next year.
The new rates would mean an increase of about $11.64 on the average monthly bill for someone who uses 550 kilowatt hours of electricity a month.
This winter, though, monthly Eversource bills for customers using an average of 600 kilowatt hours of electricity are about 6.4 percent lower than last year. As of Jan. 1, 2017, monthly bills for such customers were estimated at $120.31, compared to $128.51 last year.
High energy prices here have been blamed on a lack of power generation in the region and the high cost of bringing in natural gas to fire generating stations.
The company says it needs to raise rates to upgrade its electrical network, make outages less frequent -- and shorter in duration -- nd to build up its electrical infrastructure to allow for an increase in the number of electric vehicle charging stations.
Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey opposes Eversource's plan. Under state law, she acts as the attorney representing ratepayers as Eversource seeks state permission for the hike.
Prices for other forms of energy released Wednesday include:
Gasoline: The price of gasoline averaged $2.245 per gallon in December 2016, which was up 16.8 cents from the $2.077 per gallon area residents paid last December. Nationally, gas prices were similar at $2.29.
According to AAA, gas prices in Springfield averaged $2.30 a gallon this week. That is up from $2.20 a month ago and from $1.89 a year ago.
Natural gas: In December 2016, area natural gas prices increased 14.9 cents from one year ago. Consumers here paid $1.315 per therm of natural gas, 35.3 percent above the national average of $0.972. Households in the Boston area have paid 28 percent or more than the national average for natural gas in the month of December in each of the last five years.