I've written a few times about my expectation that electricity prices will rise. I wasn't really expecting such dramatic validation so quickly, but here we are:
Winter electricity prices in Massachusetts are going up...and significantly. National Grid electricity prices are going up 37% from the summer rate to the winter rate. In NStar, they are going up 24%. The prices may come down a bit in the summer because New England experiences its peak demand in the winter unlike other regional electric grids that peak in the summer. There is more heating from electricity and less central air conditioning in New England than in the rest of the country.
Regardless, this is a reminder of one of the great benefits of solar power for your home. It is a great way to get off the the fossil fuel roller coaster ride of utility prices. Massachusetts electric customers who have solar installed are not feeling this dramatic price increase because they have locked-in fixed rates.
But you might say that there is no sun in New England in winter anyway and sometimes the roofs are covered with snow. So how does solar power help? That is the beauty of net metering. It is basically like using the electric grid as a battery for storing excess solar electricity and all National Grid and NStar customers who install solar get it. You can produce more electricity than you need in the summer and build up credits on your electric bill. Then in the winter when you produce less solar power, you draw down those credits.
Whether you buy the solar panels or purchase the electricity they produce through a Solar Lease of Power Purchase Agreement, you still get to benefit from net metering. And you are going to have a few extra dollars for holiday gifts.