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North Attleboro to get break on power

NORTH ATTLEBORO - For the third time this year, North Attleboro Electric customers will be getting a break on their electric bills.

Electric commissioners voted Tuesday to reduce an energy-related surcharge for the third time since January, lowering the surcharge by 25 percent, bringing the charge for the average residential customer from $10.49 to $7.87 per month. The change goes into effect in July’s bills. The surcharge, known as a purchased power adjustment, was first added to bills in January to offset rising fuel costs. At that time, the surcharge was $16.15 for the average customer -more than two years.

While North Attleboro Electric does not generate its own power, fuel costs are an important factor in what it costs for the town-owned utility to purchase power.

"Generally, oil prices and natural gas prices have stabilized to a certain extent and the prices we’re looking at now for purchasing electricity are lower than what we had budgeted," said James Moynihan, North Attleboro Electric’s general manager.

With the decrease in the surcharge, the average customer using 500 kilowatt-hours of electricity each month will pay a bill of $65.33. The average bill in January was $73.61- about 11 percent higher than the current bill.

Moynihan said North Attleboro Electric's rates remain competitive, and are lower than those charged by private utilities. NStar charges $106.56 for 500 kilowatt hours of electricity while National Grid charges $81.21 for the same amount of energy.

While calling the rate decrease good news, Moynihan said there have been recent changes in the power industry that may mean that rate increases could be coming late this year.

There is a concern that New England will not be generating enough power to meet demand in 2008, and a recent plan to rectify that situation will likely have a financial impact for power customers across the state, possibly beginning in December.

Moynihan said North Attleboro Electric is keeping an eye on the situation, and will make adjustments to its rates as needed.