July 26 2002 – Customers of Pascoag Electric will enjoy lower electric bills for the rest of the calendar year, the utility announced yesterday.

The Public Utilities Commission has approved a rate reduction of 12.4 per cent, said general manager Theodore G. Garille. For a typical residential customer who uses about 500 kWh each month, that means a drop from a monthly cost of $55.17 to $48.32, Garille said.

This rate will be locked in and guaranteed to our customers until January 2003, said Garille. At that time, he said, the utility is scheduled to once again reassess its rates: We’re hoping to at least maintain [the current rates] if not grant another rate reduction in January, Garille said.

In general, Garille said, the utility cuts rates when its expenses fall short of what had been anticipated. If we over collected, he said, we reduce rates and give it back to people. This particular rate cut, said PUC Commissioner Kate Racine, was due to several factors.

Most importantly, she said, Pascoag Electric had expected to help pay for the decommissioning of a nuclear power plant as part of its contract with a Massachusetts-based wholesale energy dealer. The decommissioning cost less than expected and the savings allowed for rates to be lowered.

But Racine added that Pascoag Electric’s small size it serves only 5000 customers in Pascoag and Harrisville and its unique status as the state’s only nonprofit public power utility contribute to its ability to find good deals on energy.

For example, as a nonprofit, municipal utility, Pascoag Electric is eligible to buy energy reserved for rural customers from the New York Power Authority, a quasi-governmental agency, at special rates.

That’s what’s keeping their rates down, Racine said. Racine said she had been pleased to approve the rate reduction. I think they’re all very special, the smaller [utilities], she said. They’re up against a huge market, constantly trying to stay alive and compete, and you have to see the smiles that come over their faces when they’re able to achieve it.