If you live in the Northeast, you're likely familiar with Eversource – they are the largest energy provider in New England, servicing about 3.6 million customers across Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire.
Many electricity customers throughout the country receive their electric bill every month and pay it without diving into the details of what they're actually paying for…and we're here to help break it down. In this article, we'll review the most important parts of your Eversource bill, and how that changes once you install solar panels.
There are two important factors in determining how much you'll owe each month: your usage and your electricity rate.
How much electricity you use in a given month is calculated in kilowatt-hours (kWh). This number may change significantly from season to season based on your consumption habits. Many people use more electricity during summer months when they run their air conditioning units and will see lower electricity bills during colder months. It's important to keep track of how your monthly electricity usage changes over time rather than just looking at the overall cost of your bill. Seeing that your electricity bill is increasing because of an uptick in consumption (which you can control) rather than due to a change to utility rates gives you the opportunity to change your electricity usage habits and save money.
Next up, rate plans: you may or may not know which rate plan you're on (or whether you have the opportunity to change it). Many utility companies have default rate options for their customers that remain in place unless you proactively request to be on a different rate plan.
Eversource offers plans that not only vary in pricing but in structure. A fixed-rate plan and a time-of-use plan are the two most common types.
The large majority of Eversource customers have fixed-rate plans – this means Eversource charges you a fixed rate for each kilowatt-hour (kWh) of electricity you use. However, you're placed on different fixed-rate plans depending on how much electricity you use and what you use your electricity for. For example, Eversource offers different rate plans for homes that use gas for heat rather than electric space and water heaters. Eversource also has different rates for customers that fall into different electricity usage thresholds. Note: Eversource does not offer different rates for electric heating in New Hampshire.
On the other hand, Eversource's variable peak pricing (VPP) plans charge a different rate for electricity depending on the day and time you use it. This type of rate structure varies based on when you use the electricity and is called a "time-varying rate" or "time of use rate." You can benefit from lower rates during times when demand for electricity is lower (morning and late at night), but pay more during "peak hours'' when demand for electricity is high (evening hours). Importantly, Eversource does not offer VPP plans for all types of residential customers; this rate plan is more common for non-residential accounts with higher electricity needs.
Generally, Eversource's plans follow the same basic structure but differ in name based on where you live. For more information on rate plans available in your area, use the links below.
Types of electricity bill charges
Electricity bills often have a lot of confusing terms and line-items, making it difficult to identify specific charges. However, most of these line items can be categorized into three separate buckets. First, supply- the cost of generating the electricity that you use. Then, distribution/transmission- the cost of delivering the electricity to your home. Finally, miscellaneous charges cover any other charges and fees related to the maintenance of the grid.
It's easiest to think of supply charges as paying for the actual electricity you use. Eversource labels their supply charges as supply or generation charges on their bills. Supply charges vary by season, with higher rates typically occurring in the hot summer months when demand for electricity is higher.
You may notice that Eversource delivers electricity to your home, but you're paying someone else for supply. Many New England states have deregulated or partially-deregulated electricity markets. This allows other entities outside of utility companies to have the opportunity to procure and sell electricity. Increasingly popular community choice aggregation (CCA) programs allow local governments to aggregate electricity purchases for their constituents. Many towns do this as a way to deliver cheaper, cleaner electricity to the area. If you see a different company or organization mentioned in the supply section of your bill, this may be your town's CCA provider.
Distribution and Transmission
Distribution and transmission charges, sometimes referred to as delivery charges, are the fees from Eversource to send you the electricity. The utility company uses these charges to build and maintain the poles and electrical wires that deliver electricity from power plants to your property. You can think of the delivery charge as effectively the same as paying for shipping and handling for any product you buy online.
You'll notice these charges on your Eversouce bill underneath your supply charges. They are broken down into different charges listed out as your total monthly electricity usage (kWh) multiplied by the rate.
In addition to paying for electricity supply and demand, utility companies often include a number of miscellaneous charges in their bills. Sometimes, these charges are a fixed amount unrelated to how much electricity you use. Other times they're presented as a volumetric rate, where you pay more each month based on how much you use. You'll find these charges below the distribution and transmission charges on your Eversource bills. For example, in Massachusetts, common miscellaneous charges include Revenue Decoupling Charges, Distributed Solar Charges, and Renewable Energy Charges. These charges can vary depending on the different costs and taxes associated with delivering electricity in your area.
After you install solar panels, you will continue to receive your monthly electricity bills from Eversource. Each monthly bill will include an energy usage graph and a table showing how many kilowatt-hours of electricity you used over the billing cycle. If you produce less electricity with your solar panels than you use, your bill will reflect the outstanding amount of energy and the cost. However, if you produce more electricity than you use, your bill could show a negative net electricity usage and a negative bill value. This is net metering in action: net metering is a solar incentive that allows you to claim credits for any excess solar electricity you send to the grid. You can use these credits to counterbalance what you pull from the grid at times when your solar panel system isn't generating enough electricity to meet your needs (like at night).
Net metering regulations differ by state. Your state's specific regulations will determine if your system qualifies for net metering and what you receive in exchange for your extra energy:
In Massachusetts, solar panel system owners can use their net metering credits in future months to augment their energy production. These credits do not expire, and you can also send excess credits to nearby friends and family with virtual net metering!
In New Hampshire, the rules are a bit different – if you have a large system (between 100 kW and 1,000 kW), you receive a monetary credit equal to your default energy service charge for each kWh of solar electricity you send back to the grid. On the other hand, if you have a small system (less than 100 kW), you will receive a credit equal to the sum of the default energy service charge, your transmission charge, and 25 percent of your distribution charge. You can read more about net metering in New Hampshire on Eversource's website.
In Connecticut, solar panel system owners receive a bill credit for the excess energy that they produce. This credit can carry over month to month, but it must be cashed in by the end of the year, or it will expire.
Join the thousands of Eversource customers already saving on their electricity with solar! On the EnergySage Marketplace, you can receive up to seven quotes from local installers to compare. These quotes provide custom savings estimates based on your electricity usage, the rate you pay, and the solar potential of your property. If you'd like to start out with a rough estimate of solar costs and savings, try our Solar Calculator.