Suspend the Public Service Company (PSC) Tax on gas & electric bills [Commentary]

December 22, 2006

As all of you know by now, the electric distribution companies have decided to raise all of our electric rates. In response to this ludicrous increase, I have proposed legislation to help reduce or, in some cases, erase the increase in our monthly bills by temporarily abolishing the Public Service Company (PSC) Tax on natural gas and electricity.

While I will be the first to admit that suspending the PSC tax for six months will not save anyone a big bag of money, I do expect that, in light of the rate increase, most people would save between five and ten dollars on their monthly bills. So, immediately suspending the PSC Tax would put money back in people’s pockets instead of taking it away from them.

Suspending the PSC Tax from January through July is something meaningful that it is in the General Assembly’s power to do; the state would use a small portion of its anticipated $540 million budget surplus to make up the revenue loss. And, most importantly, suspending the PSC Tax would force the General Assembly to do more than just talk about the need to craft a long-term, workable, energy policy.

There are those who say that suspending the PSC is meaningless and really doesn’t give the people of Connecticut a lot of relief. They’re wrong. Immediately suspending the PSC Tax will in effect negate the effect of the electric companies’ rate hikes. In other words, immediately suspending the PSC Tax will keep most people’s electric bills from going up, despite the rate increase. Anyone who does not see the value in that must also believe that the upcoming electric rate increase is insignificant. Well, I certainly do not believe that the upcoming rate increase is insignificant.

As everyone who pays attention to media reports knows by now, Connecticut’s politicians have been talking a lot, and for a long time now, about our failure to put in place a meaningful plan to control energy costs. There has been a lot of talk about holding a special session that, somehow, never happened – though we did have an energy summit and more than one public hearing on the subject.

It is well past time to stop talking about it and do something. I applaud the Senate Democrats for finally putting a proposal on the table to address the vexing problem of controlling energy costs. But while we talk about their plan – and hold the many public hearings and legislative committee meetings required before the General Assembly can vote on it – we ought to provide immediate relief to Connecticut ratepayers by suspending the PSC Tax We can do that right now, as soon as the General Assembly convenes in January. Our energy costs are through the roof. The clock is ticking on the viability of our state’s economy. The pressure on Connecticut families will get worse every week we delay acting.

Meanwhile, if you hear politicians dismiss the Senate Republicans’ proposal to suspend the PSC Tax, ask them what they don’t like about the idea. And, then ask them what their plan is to immediately save the ratepayers money on their monthly energy bills. If they come up with a good idea, please don’t hesitate to share it with me. As I said earlier, I don’t care who comes up with the ideas to save money and control energy costs, as long they are good ideas.

If you agree with me that the General Assembly ought to do the right thing by Connecticut’s families and businesses and immediately suspend the PSC Tax, then call the General Assembly’s Democrat leadership and let them know.