Westfield Electric Department responds to bills
February 18, 2011
Why are the electric bills so high?
Most important: it does not involve a rate increase. The Electric Department has not changed rates since October 1999. We deal with this question every winter. The short answer is that there is no blanket response that will fit all of the 3500 customers we bill every month.
To further explain: there were some variances that occurred in the recent January billing that would create higher usages in some of the residences billed. The Electric Department is in the process of installing new radio read electric meters so meters were not read on the normal dates. During the time covered in this bill, mid-December to mid-January, the temperature was only above freezing 5 days. Also 11 days within this period, the low temperature was in the teens. December 2010 was 9 degrees colder than the average for the past 10 year. The addition of the Purchase Power Adjustment (PPA) charge was not a significant factor in this period.
The new radio read electric meters have been installed in the Town of Westfield over the past few years. In January installation was started on the south side of the village. Because of this and several other factors, electric bills for customers on the south side of the village had an additional 8-13 days in the billing cycle. Some of the Town of Westfield bills had 4-6 days more. If you use the example of a 3000 kilowatts (kw) bill for the common 30 day billing period it would be about $142.00. The 10 additional days would increase the energy used by 1000 kw, or $37.00. Adding the Jan PPA (.009204) on 1000 kw is an additional $9.20. The total increase would be $46.00, just for the additional days, new total of the bill is about $188.00. In turn the more daily electric used the more the increase would be. In most cases if the December and January kw usage is combined and compared to the usage in the same period last year the difference is nominal taking the weather factor into account.
The Purchase Power Adjustment or PPA, while not significant for January should be understood because it will become a factor in the next few months. The Electric Department is contracted to receive a fixed amount of hydro power at a set rate. The current residential electric rate of .037/kw is based on the assumption that all power is purchased at that rate. If we go over our allotment of hydro power we must purchase supplemental power which is significantly more expensive. Much like mileage on a car lease, go over the agreed upon mileage and you pay extra for every additional mile. The more power used by all rate payers the higher the PPA. For instance the Electric Departments bill showed an increase of 2 million kilowatts from December to January this being the period in question.
In a continued effort to keep our electric rates reasonable, the Electric Department has discontinued its contract with the Northeast Power Coordinating Council (NPCC) to purchase power beyond their allotment. Because of this it is actually cheaper to purchase power on the open market because of Westfield’s location relative to the Transmission System. In this area there is very little congestion on the system. Another reason the contract was discontinued is that in 2012 NPCC will no longer have a cap on what they can charge for supplemental power. We hope this clarifies many of the questions you many have. Furthermore remember to conserve your energy consumption. It helps everyone.
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