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Lights On: Energy Customers Grapple With Soaring Prices

BOSTON (CBS) -- From the corner office on Beacon Hill to non-profit think tanks to confused consumers, the high price we pay in New England for electricity has people demanding answers.

Utility company phone lines have been lighting up with customers seeking answers on the amount their bill indicates they now owe.

"Customers are really struggling to understand why the prices have gone up, and it's a complicated answer," said Penny McLean-Conner, chief customer officer for Eversource. "It may help to understand the cost breakdown when you're looking at your bill."

With restructuring in the late 90s, you now see basic service and delivery services itemized separately. Utilities pass the basic generator cost directly to you, so that's not where the company profits. It profits from the so-called distribution and transmission charges.

However, prices aren't expected to be as high this upcoming winter as they were last winter. Last winter's rates were based on conditions during the winter of 2013-2014. Forecasts are made six months in advance.

This year's rate request is expected to be released in October.

Meanwhile, customers can choose a competitor for their basic service. Oftentimes, though, they are unaware that the options list is on their utility company's website.

This is Part 1 of Mary Blake's week-long 'Light's On' series on the state of energy in Massachusetts.

WBZ NewsRadio1030's Mary Blake reports:

EMERGENCY COMPONENT - LOCAL

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