wakefield observer
Gas & Light rates to increase
Thursday, June 8, 2006

The Wakefield Municipal Gas & Light Department (WMGLD) will increase its electric and natural gas base rates, effective June 1. The base rates will increase an average of 5.5 percent and 5 percent, respectively, to all rate classes.

    WMGLD residential electric customers who use an average of 500-kilowatt hours each month will see their rates increase $3.39, from $61.72 to $65.11. Natural gas non-heat customers who use an average of 50 units of gas will see their total natural gas costs, including the purchased gas costs, increase by $5.23, from $112.84. to $118.07; natural gas heating customers who use 125 units of natural gas each month will see their costs increase by $10.43, from $211.22 to $221.65.

    This is the first electric base rate increase since December 1994. The last natural gas base rate increase occurred in January 2003.

    The base rate is separate from the purchased power and fuel adjustment charge and is used by utilities to cover operational costs; i.e.: salaries, maintenance, materials, insurance, building costs, etc., and a portion of the purchased power costs. The purchased power and fuel adjustment charge includes additional charges incurred by the WMGLD from their energy suppliers, which are passed on to the customers according to their energy consumption.

    Although the base rate increases are effective on June 1, WMGLD customers will not be billed at the new rates until the billing cycle after July1.

    "The WMGLD has a four-week billing cycle with meters read throughout the month," WMGLD Manager William Wallace said. "For example, when the new rates take effect, customers who have their meters read at the beginning of the month will have used the majority of their electricity and gas under the old rates. Bills received in June will reflect the old rates, and the new rates will be reflected on all WMGLD bills received in July."

    According to Manager Wallace, this ensures that all kilowatt-hours and natural gas units used before the rate increase will be billed at the old rates.

    Even with the base rate increases, WMGLD electric rates are below the base rates of the majority of other Massachusetts public power utilities, and substantially below the base rates charged by private utilities like NSTAR and Mass Electric.