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WMECo Asking For 8% Rate Increase

Staff Reports

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. — Western Massachusetts Electric Co. filed an application on Friday with the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities requesting an increase in electric distribution rates which would become effective Feb. 1, 2011. 

If approved as filed, residential customers using 600 kilwatt-hours a month would see an increase in their monthly bill of approximately $7.50, or about 8 percent. On average, business customers would see bill increases ranging from 1 percent to 6 percent, depending on load and usage. 

The WMECo request seeks a $28 million adjustment to revenues and other changes that will enable the company to continue making needed investments in the electric system to preserve the high levels of reliability customers expect and deserve, according to a company statement.

"We are very cognizant of the effect of increasing electric rates on our customers and have worked hard to moderate the amount we are seeking. There is never a good time to ask for a rate increase, but with this filing we feel we have achieved a reasonable balance between the investments we need to make in our system and the effect on customer bills," said Peter J. Clarke, WMECo president and chief operating officer.

"Our customers have increasing expectations for safe, reliable delivery of electricity. We have reached the point where we can no longer satisfy those expectations in a climate of declining sales and increasing demands on the delivery system, unless we increase our investment in our infrastructure," Clarke continued.

WMECo actually reduced its rates beginning July 1 in response to lower fuel prices. While the overall cost went down, delivery charges increased. The residential rate was set at 7.647 cents per kWh.

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