(New Haven Register) Senator whose district includes Middlesex County using grassroots approach to fight CL&P rate hike.

November 21, 2014

Article as it appeared in the New Haven Register

A Republican state senator whose district includes much of Middlesex County is using a grassroots approach to continue to fight a Connecticut Light & Power proposed service rate hike that utility regulators are scheduled to rule on next month.

State Sen. Art Linares, R-33, has launched an online petition where his constituents can voice their opposition to the proposed rate increase. The Public Utilities Regulatory Authority is scheduled to issue draft decision in the case Dec. 1.

“Many people have asked me what they can do to help me to fight rate hikes,” Linares said in a statement. “One way is to take our message to the decision-makers. The message we are sending is clear: We cannot afford higher electricity rates.”

The rate increase that CL&P is seeking would add $150 a year onto the service charge portion of the electric bills of all its customers, according to Linares, who represents 100,000 people in a legislative district that stretches along the Connecticut River Valley from Portland south to Old Saybrook and Lyme.

The lawmaker already has voiced his opposition to the proposed rate hike, when he testified before PURA commissioners during a Sept. 3 public hearing in New London.

Mitch Gross, a spokesman for CL&P, said officials at the utility “certainly sympathize with our customers, especially those who are facing difficult financial circumstances, and the effect these increases have on them.”

But, “It’s important to note that there are significant costs associated with running a large and complex electric system to meet the energy needs of our customers,” Gross said. “Over time, it’s crucial that we continue making significant investments to provide our customers with reliable service now and in the future.”