Electric bills rising by 6.1 percent in Norwich

Norwich - Norwich Public Utilities customers will see an increase in their electric bills starting today, as the city-owned utility adjusts for an "uptick" in the cost of purchased power that serves the city.

Electric bills will increase by 6.1 percent, costing the average residential customer about $7.50 per month, NPU General Manager John Bilda said. Bills for commercial customers also will rise by 6.1 percent, but amounts vary too much to provide an average estimate, he said.

Bilda said the "purchase power adjustment" is the first for Norwich customers since October 2012, when NPU lowered city utility customers' electric bills by 14 percent when the price of purchased power dropped.

"It's a 6.1 percent increase, and you're still paying less than what you were paying in October of 2012," Bilda said.

The purchased power increase mainly is the result of increases in the price of natural gas, which is used to produce about 60 percent of electric power in New England, Bilda said. The increase being passed along to customers now is a leveraged amount from the spikes and valleys of purchased power costs since that October 2012 decrease, Bilda said.

NPU hopes to avoid another adjustment in the near future, but that would depend on costs for the rest of this winter and the upcoming peak summer season.

"We knew we were going to have to make some sort of adjustment this year," Bilda sad. "We tried to keep it as low as we could during the peak during the summer."

The purchased power adjustment is different from the electric rate NPU charges to cover energy and operating costs. NPU officials are working on the proposed 2014-15 budget now, and Bilda anticipates no increase in electric rates for Norwich customers in the coming fiscal year.


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