Information Related to High Energy Costs
While summer typically brings lower energy costs to consumers, energy costs this summer remain high, and Granite Staters should expect to see continued higher energy prices through the fall and winter.
Energy markets worldwide are volatile, and the higher prices we are seeing are the result of an energy supply crunch brought about by increased energy usage as the economy recovers from the COVID pandemic, uncertainties in supply stemming from the ongoing war in Ukraine, and growing inflation.
Natural gas prices, which have been increasing over the past 18 months after several years of relatively lower prices, have increased substantially over the past few months. Increases in natural gas prices mean higher costs for natural gas customers, but also mean higher costs for electric customers.
Why would electric costs be higher? New Hampshire and the other New England states are part of a regional electrical system called ISO-NE. Roughly half of the electricity supplied in New Hampshire and New England is produced by generation plants powered by natural gas. During extreme cold weather, the amount of natural gas needed for heating can sometimes take up most of the space, or capacity, in the pipeline delivering natural gas to New England. When that happens, the price of the remaining natural gas – the portion not earmarked for customers of the region’s natural gas utilities - goes up. Those plants that use natural gas to produce electricity pay considerably more for natural gas causing the price of the electricity produced to go up.
Although these factors are out of our control, there are some steps that we can take to help alleviate the impact of higher energy prices on our wallets. New Hampshire’s electric and natural gas utilities offer a number of energy efficiency programs and services, which reduce the amount of energy used in our homes or businesses. Simple low cost and no cost conservation measures can also help reduce how much energy you use, which translates to lower bills. Turning down your thermostat even one or two degrees will help you reduce your energy usage. Learn more about ways to manage your energy use at Tips for Managing Your Electric Usage | NH Department of Energy or about the energy efficiency programs your utility offers at Your Source for Energy Efficiency in New Hampshire | NHSaves.
Payment options such as budget billing and extended payment arrangements are also available to help ease the impact of higher bills by spreading out the cost over a longer period of time. To enroll in a budget or levelized billing program or to set a payment arrangement, contact your local electric or natural gas utility. Providers of oil and propane may also offer budget billing plans to their customers.
There are a number of assistance programs available to low-income households. The Electric Assistance Program provides income eligible households with a discount on the monthly electric bill, and the Gas Assistance Program provides income eligible households with a discount on monthly natural gas bills during the winter months. In addition, the Fuel Assistance Program provides benefits to income eligible households to assist with heating costs. Neighbor Helping Neighbor, available to customers of Eversource, Liberty and Unitil, and Project Care, available to customers of NHEC, also provide assistance to eligible households needing help with utility bills. To learn more about these and other programs and to find out if you are eligible, contact your local Community Action Agency.