NSTAR Green 100 customers got a rude shock last week when a notice from the utility informed them, without any explanation, that their green power premiums would be going up by more than 300 percent in March. What’s up with that?
What’s up is that prices for natural gas, the dominant fuel used to create electricity in our region, are way down. Meanwhile, the price of the clean, renewable wind power that NSTAR Green customers are buying to reduce our dependence on such polluting fossil fuels as gas and coal, is stable. So, because the NSTAR Green premiums are pegged to the price of power from those fossil fuels – i.e., the price of its “Basic Service ” – when the differential between its Basic Service and the cost of wind power increases, the premiums go up.
What NSTAR failed to explain to its Green customers is that, even with the hike in premiums, customers will still pay the same or less for their total energy bill (basic electric supply, transmission and distribution charges, plus the green premium) than they paid when the program first started. Other than the obvious environmental and public health benefits of consuming less fossil fuels, NSTAR Green customers also get the benefit of more stable and ultimately lower total energy prices over time. The drop in traditional electricity prices is temporary, and it is inevitable that they will soon rise again, given the finite nature of fossil fuels and the environmental, public health and national security costs of burning them. When the price of traditional electricity increases in the future, NSTAR Green premiums will go back down.
We wish that NSTAR had taken this opportunity to tell its customers who have chosen to buy clean power that their investment continues to be a sound one, one that will ultimately save them money by getting off of the fossil fuel roller coaster.