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Lawmakers weigh in on electricity price hikes

By: Tiffany Chan |

Households across Massachusetts will soon be paying more in electric bills. The state Department of Public Utilities determines whether basic services rates go up or down.

State Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester) told 22News that he is not convinced the DPU is transparent about their review process. Once the agency makes a decision, only the Attorney General has the power to appeal. State lawmakers are not involved with setting or even approving price adjustments. At least one politician believes it should stay that way.

“I don’t think that the legislature should really be in charge or have their hand in everything,” said State Rep. John Scibak (D-South Hadley).

Orange State Representative Denise Andrews urged the Department of Public Utilities to keep prices affordable. Rep. Andrews says there is a way for state lawmakers to get involved.

“If not satisfied, we can pass bills, laws to say we want more oversight.”

National Grid customers already saw their electric bills increase by an average $33 a month, and Western Massachusetts Electric Company (WMECo) proposed an increase of their own. With WMECO’s new rates expected to take effect on New Year’s Day, it is highly unlikely state lawmakers can move a bill to the governor’s desk that quickly, if at all.

The Department of Public Utilities has until Friday, Nov. 21 to decide whether WMECo’s rates will go up by 30 percent.