Jack Newsham | April 13, 2015 | Boston Globe
Massachusetts electricity costs were well above the national average in 2014 for households and businesses, according to federal data.
Year-end data from 2014 recently highlighted by the Associated Industries of Massachusetts showed the supply cost of electricity was 39 percent higher for households and 79 percent higher for industrial customers than the national average. Residential ratepayers averaged 17.4 cents per kilowatt-hour in Massachusetts and 12.5 cents nationally, and industries paid an average of 12.6 cents in Massachusetts and 7.0 cents nationally.
A growing portion of Massachusetts’s electricity is generated by natural gas, and some groups argue that building new natural gas pipelines will result in lower power prices during the winter, when most gas is burned for heat. Last winter, electricity prices didn’t jump as much because of policies that encouraged New England generating plants to keep more gas and oil in storage.
Governor Charlie Baker has said lowering the region’s high energy costs is a priority for his administration, and business groups such as Associated Industries have long complained that energy costs put the state at a competitive disadvantage. Baker has spoken in support of several projects to expand existing natural gas pipelines.
The gap between industrial and residential rates nationally and in Massachusetts could be attributable to many industrial users buying their power on fixed-term contracts that weren’t affected by the winter surge, according to Shaun Pandit, who runs the Milton-based energy broker EarlyBird Power. He added that industries that use lots of electricity could gravitate to parts of the country where power is cheaper, lowering the national average for that category.