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Municipal Electric Customers Will Not See Spike in Rates

By Ryan Trowbridge

November 21st, 2014

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REGION (WGGB) — National Grid and Western Mass. Electric have announced rate hikes for their customers. One of the major reasons is the spike is natural gas costs.

However, for other utility users, their rates will stay about the same.

The Chicopee Electric Light department serves about 25,000 customers. It is a city department, but is self-supporting through rates charged its customers.

The company buys electricity from a number of sources in both long-term and short-term agreements.

“Right now, this is 2014. We’re already buying power out in 2019, ’20, and also ’15, ’16, and ’17, so this way, it allows us to have a more level price as we go through time,” says Jeffrey Cady, general manager of Chicopee Electric Light.

As an example of some of those power sources, it’s buying some electricity from a solar farm near St. Stanislaus Cemetery. The city also has some hydro-electric units.

They also have access to their own huge diesel generators if they need them on very cold days or on hot days during the summer.

All these sources are designed to keep costs as low as possible.

The bottom line in Chicopee is that these electric customers won’t be seeing any big spikes in their utility bills.

Cady explains, “Our rates are pretty steady. We’re just finishing our budget process right now. We’re not anticipating any significant increases.”

So why is there such a difference in what customers from Chicopee Electric Light pay and what other customers from larger companies pay?

“The larger companies… they’re mandated to go out at certain points and time to buy power. We’re able to look at the price and if it seems at that point the price is a little higher, we may buy less than we would have. We can wait until prices have stabilized a little bit before we buy additional amounts of power,” Cady adds.

Three years ago, Chicopee Electric Light even discounted bills for its customers when estimates for the cost of power were higher than actual amounts.

Westfield Gas and Electric also reports that their rates are staying about the same as last year.