Esta información es importante.
Essas informações são importantes.
What is a Distribution Rate Case?
Distribution rates fund the day-to-day operations of a utility that support safe and reliable service: the poles, the pipes, the people and the programs that distribute energy to our customers. This summer, we will be filing rate cases for our electric and gas operations, an action that will initiate a thorough, months-long review by the DPU.
Our last electric and gas distribution rate filings were filed in 2019 and based on 2018 operating costs and investments.
Our External Affairs Manager, Alec O’Meara, explains more in this video.
What to know about this rate case
Earlier this summer:
On June 30th we notified the DPU of our intent to file. Then, our team conducted a study on how best to structure the new rates to ensure equity among all customer classes, including residential customers, commercial businesses of all sizes, and those who qualify for assistance programs.
Our study and initial rate case filings are complete and have been provided to the DPU along with estimated bill impacts based on the proposed new rates.
Electric filing, 23-80, and gas filing, 23-81, can be found by searching these numbers on the Energy and Environmental Affairs website.
The DPU has issued a notice for our rate cases and scheduled hearings to allow the public to provide feedback on the proposal and conduct a comprehensive review of the rate case to look at whether the expenditures included are prudent and in the public interest.
Interpretation services (Spanish, Portuguese) will be available at the public hearings.
- November 9th, 7:00 pm (doors open at 6:00 pm) - in-person hearing at the Fitchburg High School Auditorium: 140 Arnhow Farm Rd, Fitchburg, MA 01420.
- November 29th, 2:00 pm - virtual hearing (link to Zoom meeting here)
- November 29th, 7:00 pm - virtual hearing (link to Zoom meeting here)
Attendees can join either session by entering the link, https://us06web.zoom.us/j/83388016649, from a computer, smartphone, or tablet. No prior software download is required. For audio-only access to the public hearing, attendees can dial in at +1 305 224 1968 or +1 309 205 3325 (not toll free) and then enter the Webinar ID: 833 8801 6649. Interpretation services (Spanish, Portuguese) will be available over the Zoom platform by clicking the “Interpretation” button on the menu at the bottom of the Zoom application screen and selecting your language (i.e., English, Spanish, or Portuguese).
The DPU's ruling will be issued within 10 months of the filing date. We are expecting this ruling to be issued in the summer of 2024. This ruling establishes the final rates for each customer class and customers will see the new distribution rates on their next bill.
Estimated Bill Impacts:
If approved, the proposed base distribution rates will result in an increase of approximately $10.34 (4.0 percent) in the total monthly bill for a typical residential electric customer that uses 600 kilowatt hours per month, and an increase of approximately $31.86 (15.5 percent) per month for a typical residential gas heating customer using about 70 therms of gas per month. Final rate changes will be determined as part of the DPU’s final review process and will vary by customer class.
Proposed Customer Benefits:
As part of our proposed filing, Unitil will be requesting the adoption of Performance Based Ratemaking (PBR) for its gas and electric operations. PBR enables greater rate stability through multi-year planning and annual adjustments to rates. PBR programs are used by other utilities in the Commonwealth to better manage operating and maintenance expenses efficiently and create cost containment that directly benefits customers. In short, PBR programs reduce the frequency and size of future rate cases and create more stable, lower rates for customers going forward. Our PBR proposal is designed to eliminate the need for another rate case through 2028.
Heat pumps, high-efficiency systems that use electricity to draw heat energy out of an environment, will be an important tool as the Commonwealth seeks carbon-free heating solutions for homes and businesses. There are a number of rebates available to aid in the cost of purchasing and installing a heat pump system for homes, and we are committed to further enabling adoption for customers interested in this emerging technology. As part of our filing, Unitil is proposing a new rate class designed to complement these policy initiatives and give customers using heat pumps some rate relief during the coldest months of the year.
Learn more about heat pumps on our Heat Pump webpage.
As part of our filing, Unitil is proposing to increase the electric low-income discount rate for our electric customers from 34.5 percent to 40.0 percent. We work closely with our most vulnerable customers to help them take advantage of the wide array of assistance programs available in the Commonwealth, and by increasing the per kilowatt-hour discount for qualifying customers, we can provide meaningful, additional aid monthly in helping to meet their energy needs.
Other Rate Case FAQ's
We aim to transform the evolving energy needs of our customers and help create a sustainable energy future that supports the Commonwealth’s climate initiatives. These important goals, which we all share, require continuous investment in our electric and gas systems and periodic adjustments to Unitil’s distribution rates are necessary.