Q: What are "unbundled" charges on my bill?

A: The kilowatt-hour charge on your bill reflects three distinct services: energy (generation), transmission and the distribution of electric power. Along with a small monthly charge, which is not related to your usage, these factors are listed on your bill. Here’s what they mean:

Energy is the electric current produced at power plants. Power plants use different fuels such as oil, gas, water or nuclear fission to turn turbines that produce electricity. To secure a mix of low cost, reliable power, CEL contracts with many providers for the electricity used in your home or business.

The cost to move bulk electricity from power plants to local substations makes up the transmission portion of the kilowatt-hour rate. Electricity on transmission lines can travel at 345,000 volts, although homes use electricity at 120/240 volts. In New England, power plants and utilities share common transmission lines, and the lines’ owners charge utilities for moving the purchased electricity from the power plant to local destinations.

The local delivery of electricity is called distribution. High-voltage current leaves the transmission lines at a substation where transformers reduce it to a medium voltage. Electricity then travels through distribution lines on poles or underground to neighborhoods. Here it passes through another transformer that reduces it to 120/240 volts. The final step is for the electricity to pass through a meter to measure use in the kilowatt-hour units that later appear on the electric bill.



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