Electricity rates in the Northeast reach record highsThe several feet of snow isn’t the only pressure the Northeast is facing this winter. Severe spikes in electricity costs linked to an apparent “perfect storm” of situations are jacking up electricity rates across the New England region.

Homeowners are hurting worst of all. As the Boston Globe reports, National Grid has begun charging nearly a quarter for every kilowatt-hour, resulting in projected monthly bills averaging around $150. Three years ago, the cost per kilowatt-hour hovered around seven cents.

All demand, no supply

According to David T. Doot, general counsel for the New England Power Pool and chairperson of Day Pitney’s Energy and Utility Law group, New England uses eight times the amount of natural gas it required 20 years ago when held in relation to other energy alternatives. But this growing demand hasn’t been met with effective infrastructure developments, as current pipelines from Pennsylvania’s Marcellus formation can’t sustain the region’s rocketing needs.

As a result, the prices electricity plants pay for the limited natural gas will be much higher, the cost of which will be passed along to the utility customer.

Efforts to fabricate additional pipelines to help fuel the Northeast have been stymied by resistance who believe construction will have adverse effects on the environment. Even if the plans put in place by Northeast Utilities and Sempra Energy to simply improve the capacity of existing pipelines aren’t met with similar hostility, it will still take both organizations until winter 2018 to get the job done.

Going out of business

The strain on the Northeast’s power grid can also be attributed to the closure of several different fuel providers. For example, Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant – which shut down operations at the end of 2014 – provided its region with more than 600 megawatts of power, but while the organization’s website says the decommissioning process will take up to 60 years to fully implement, without its energy, the effects of its shutdown have been felt immediately.

Moreover, the closure of several coal facilities adding up to a reported 2000 megawatts for the New England power grid creates an even steeper reliance on natural gas, which exacerbates the utility’s current demand.

Even though alternative energy has been cited and implemented to combat this energy production deficit, the throughput just isn’t there. Going by standards established by National Wind Watch, New England would need to install at least 860 wind turbines just to cover the power lost by these institutions alone. The region would also have to magically guarantee these turbines ran at optimum efficiency 100 percent of the time.

The only way to prevent energy spikes of this magnitude is to make your own utility bill impervious. When shopping for energy providers, choose one that offers fixed rate plans, so you aren’t susceptible to these unfortunate circumstances.