BOSTON – Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey today, November 30, released the following statement in response to an order from the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities (DPU) increasing the electric rates for Eversource’s 1.4 million customers by $37 million in the first year and allowing for additional annual rate increases of over 3.5 percent per year over the following four years for a total increase of over $220 million over a five-year period.
Under the Department’s order, the total amount that customers pay to have their electricity delivered by NSTAR Electric Company (NSTAR) and Western Massachusetts Electric Company (WMECo) will increase in the first year by $12 million and $25 million, respectively.
“At a time when businesses and residents are already struggling with high energy costs, the DPU’s order chooses unjustified corporate profits over Eversource’s 1.4 million customers. The Department has allowed Eversource to raise rates by hundreds of millions of dollars, instead of imposing the decrease that customers deserve. Disappointingly, the increase includes a 10 percent shareholder return, one of the highest in the country. As the state’s ratepayer advocate, we will continue to fight on behalf of electric customers across Massachusetts,” said Healey, in a press release.
In January, Eversource asked the DPU to approve a 20 percent rate hike proposal that would raise customers’ rates by $284 million, including a $96 million increase in the first year and then an additional $188 million over the next four years.
Attorney General Healey, whose office has been strongly advocating against the company’s first year rate hike as well as the series of additional automatic rate increases, called on the DPU to order a decrease in rates for customers, noting the company’s stable cost structure, record high stock price and outsized investor returns over the last few years.
Eversource’s original proposal also included a request to earn a 10.5 percent rate of allowed shareholder profits – or return on equity (ROE). The AG’s Office urged the Department to investigate and reject the requested ROE, noting that it would have been the highest allowed return in New England and the highest approved by the DPU in a decade.
Over the past year, AG Healey’s Energy and Telecommunications Division has been closely working on this rate case, including closely analyzing all of the company’s filings, asking the company questions in the discovery process, cross-examining witnesses during evidentiary hearings on the case, along with and testifying at 10 public hearings across the state. In March, AG Healey testified before the DPU in Boston and then again in April in Pittsfield urging the Department to reset the balance between company profits and customers’ rates.