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Home / Solar Power / Sticker shock: National Grid asks to raise Massachusetts electric rates 20%

I’ll be the first to admit the irony – yesterday, we posted a story praising National Grid CEO Steve Holliday for his views on the future role of distributed solar generation. And today, I feel compelled to bash National Grid from this same soapbox.

Specifically, National Grid, “one of the largest providers of gas and electric services in the world”, was in the news, as it has state regulators in Massachusetts permission to raise the price of electricity by 20% this coming winter.

Their reasoning: “Due to continued gas pipeline constraints, the electric supply prices remain volatile and relatively high, though not as high as last winter.”

Of course, on September 14, 2015, National Grid was also in the news, as they slowly have been slowly slogging through the task of repairing their crumbling infrastructure.

In July of 2014, legislators passed a law to speed up the repairs, and the estimates then were that repair costs would run in the $1 to $2 per customer per month range. A study commissioned by Senator Edward J. Markey and released in 2013 found that “American consumers are paying billions of dollars for natural gas that never reaches their homes, but instead leaks from aging distribution pipelines, contributing to climate change, threatening public health, and sometimes causing explosions”.

Oil prices are low.

1 year history of Crude Oil Prices, through September 15, 2015.
1 year history of Crude Oil Prices, through September 15, 2015.

Natural gas prices are low.

1 year history of Natural Gas Prices, through September 15, 2015.
1 year history of Natural Gas Prices, through September 15, 2015.

But National Grid, self-described as “one of the largest providers of gas and electric services in the world” is asking for an astronomical 20% rate increase “due to continued gas pipeline constraints”, which are, in other words, the cost of repairs and maintenance that it should presumably been doing all along, and which were estimated to cost each person in Massachusetts only $1 to $2 per month.

What’s this have to do with solar?

Well, aside from reducing or removing your reliance on crumbling infrastructure that dates back to World War II, higher electricity rates will certainly shorten the payback period for both rooftop solar, as well as for large commercially-owned or community-owned solar arrays.

Installing solar panels, whether on a rooftop or in a field, is a one time, fixed-cost event with very little ongoing maintenance requirements, that can help stop the sticker shock from the price swingsthat utility companies, even regulated utility companies, produce more and more often for their customers.

Or did you you even have to ask that?

 

By John Fitzgerald Weaver

John Fitzgerald Weaver is a solar developer; known digitally as the 'Commercial Solar Guy.' As a project developer and installer, he’s sold and managed 50+ solar projects, valued over $25 million, ranging in size from 5kW to 1500kW. He’s been involved in many aspects of the solar supply chain –- as a company founder, developer, project manager, manufacturer, permit runner, salesman, contractor and financier. In his free time he tries to get away and clear his mind by climbing mountains, or more regularly by enjoying an IPA or scotch, and really loves the strange connection between politics, energy, finance, and environment in the energy world.

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