Just a few days after National Grid made headlines that its prices will jump more than 60 percent this winter, Marblehead Municipal Light Department is also warning about the possibility of higher electric bills.
“Not at any time in my career have predictions been this dire,” said Joe Kowalik, who has managed the MMLD since 2014. “We should all be hoping for a mild winter. A winter with extended cold could really be a problem because of the shortage of natural gas.”
The war in Ukraine is causing severe shortages of natural gas. Russian President Vladimir Putin shut down pipelines into western Europe and many countries there are scrambling to stockpile whatever natural gas supplies they have. That is spiking prices here in New England.
More than 50 percent of the energy produced by MMLD comes from natural gas. (Learn more about MMLD’s power portfolio HERE.)
The Marblehead Municipal Light Commission plans to meet at 4 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 27, to discuss the prospect of increased costs.
MMLD currently charges 19.8 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh), after two recent surcharges passed down from ISO New England, said Kowalik. ISO New England is the market manager for electricity in the region. MMLD also charges a $4.25 base rate each month.
The average Marblehead residence uses 662 kilowatt-hours of electricity a month. The average monthly bill is about $135.
“The best thing everyone can do is to conserve electricity,” Kowalik said. “Now is not the time to be inefficient in your electricity usage.”
One suggestion from Kowalik: Run your washer/dryer and dishwasher at night, when energy is cheaper.
“Starting to do things after 8 p.m. is the way to go,” Kowalik said.
MMLD is diversifying its energy portfolio to rely less on natural gas and more on solar and wind power.
“Our off-shore wind isn’t online yet,” Kowalik noted. “Wind power will be a big contributor in the late 2020s and early 2030s. This natural gas shortage could not have come at a worse time.”
He continued, “In Europe, they’re opening up coal plants that were mothballed. This shows how interdependent we all really are.”
The MMLD offers tips for conserving energy on its website. It also links to information about North Shore Community Action programs, which offer home heating assistance.
This is a developing story, and Marblehead News will report back after the Light Commission’s meeting on Sept. 27.
Leigh Blander is an experienced TV, radio and print journalist who has written hundreds of stories for local newspapers, including the Marblehead Reporter. She also works as a PR specialist.