Customers of Vermont’s largest electric utility could see their monthly bills go up to help pay the costs of recovering from Tropical Storm Irene. If approved, beginning on July 1, customers of the Central Vermont Public Service Corp. would see their bills increase by 1.4 percent.
CVPS is asking for authorization to increase its rates 2.2 percent to pay for the storm repairs, but the larger increase would be offset by lower-than-expected power supply costs.
CVPS spokesman Steve Costello said that because Irene affected so much of the northeast, it tied up local cleanup crews and forced the utility to bring in help from far outside the region. "That decision, although expensive, was a savior for us and our customers," Costello said. "Had we not had that kind of help from other places, the cleanup would have been dramatically longer and more painful."
With the 1.4 rate increase, typical residential customers who use 500 kilowatt-hours of electricity a month will see their bills increase by $1.20. Costello said that, even with the increase, the utility would remain competitive within the region. "Within New England, other customers of other companies would pay up to $20 a month more than a CVPS customer would – even with this small increase," he said.
CVPS has about 160,000 customers throughout Vermont. The proposed rate increase would remain in effect for a year, and must still be approved by the utility-regulating Public Service Board.