AG Healey, DOER Secure $5 Million in Benefits for Berkshire Gas Customers
Customers to Receive Approximately $100 in Direct Bill Credits Over Two Winter Heating Seasons; Company Prohibited From Increasing Rates before June, 2018
BOSTON – Attorney General Maura Healey and the Department of Energy Resources (DOER) have negotiated an agreement with UIL Holdings Corporation (UIL), the parent company of The Berkshire Gas Company (Berkshire), and Iberdrola, S.A., an international energy company based in Spain, that will provide customer credits totaling $4 million.
Under the agreement, each of Berkshire’s 39,000 customers will receive approximately $100 in bill credits over two winter heating seasons, beginning in 2016. The agreement also prohibits Berkshire from raising distribution rates for at least two and a half years (until June 2018).
The agreement relates to UIL’s and Iberdrola’s request for state regulatory approval of their planned merger. The agreement ensures that the merger serves the public interest by requiring that economic benefits from the merger are shared with Berkshire’s customers. Under the agreement, both residents and business customers will receive rate credits of approximately $8 on their monthly bills during the 2016-17 and 2017-18 winter seasons (November through April).
“As the ratepayer advocate for Massachusetts, it’s our job to ensure that we are getting the best possible outcome for residents and that economic benefits resulting from the merger benefit customers,” said AG Healey.
“The agreement reached will secure both economic and environmental benefits for residents and businesses,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Matthew Beaton. “The settlement will provide direct relief to consumer energy bills as well as new opportunities for renewable technologies in Western Massachusetts.”
Under the agreement, local operations for Berkshire will remain in Massachusetts, all existing labor agreements will be honored and Berkshire will maintain its current employment levels for the next three years. Berkshire also will maintain its current levels of charitable giving in Massachusetts for at least the next four years, and will contribute an additional $80,000 in the first year following the merger.
In addition, the agreement provides for $1 million to advance alternative heating programs, and economic development for Berkshire’s customers or for residents and businesses in Berkshire’s service territory impacted by the gas moratorium, as determined by DOER.
“The $1 million will allow DOER to provide additional incentives to municipalities, residential consumers, and businesses within Berkshire Gas’ service territory to invest in alternative heating technologies,” said DOER Commissioner Judith Judson. “This settlement will reduce costs as well as assist those impacted by the moratorium in the Berkshire Gas service territory.”
The proposed settlement now goes before the Department of Public Utilities for consideration and final approval. If the agreement is approved by the Department, the companies intend to close the merger by the end of the year.