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Mass. DPU approves National Grid rate hike but $32.2M lower than requested

Massachusetts regulators approved a $101 million rate hikefor 1.3 million NationalGrid electric customers, an increase 24% lower than the utility'sinitial request to secure $133.2 million in additional revenues.

The Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities Sept. 30approved the rate increase for National Grid subsidiaries andNantucket ElectricCo. after lowering the utility's request by $32.2 million.

According to the DPU, typical residential energy bills willnow be approximately 17.2% lower than they would have been under NationalGrid's initial request. The rates took effect Oct. 1. As part of the finalorder, and after 10 months of review, the DPU also approved and modifiedNational Grid's proposal to continue its capital investment recovery mechanism,a storm contingency fund and a price discount to give relief to low-incomecustomers.

"By significantly reducing the rate increases proposedby National Grid, the order issued by the DPU strikes the right balance betweenensuring safe and reliable electric service and minimizing impacts on customers,"said DPU Chair Angela O'Connor in a news release. "Most importantly, ourdecision today provides the company with the revenues needed to invest insystem integrity, to be ready to respond to storms in a timely andcost-effective manner, and to improve overall customer service."

Danielle Williamson, spokeswoman for National Grid, said ina statement that the utility is reviewing the order, and it estimatesresidential energy bills will increase by approximately 7%. "This updateto base distribution rates – the first since 2010 – will allow National Grid torecover the increasing costs of delivering electricity, which include operationand maintenance expenses, property taxes, storm response, and additionalinvestments to strengthen the electric system," Williamson said.(D.P.U. 15-155)