Sen. Kane: More Than 1000 Have Signed GOP’s Anti- Rate Hike Petition (Waterbury Republican-American)

December 3, 2014

Energy committee chairman asks PURA to phase in CL&P rate hike


The co-chairman of the legislature’s Energy and Technology Committee asked state regulators Tuesday to phase in proposed rate increases for Connecticut Light & Power Co. over the next four years.

Meanwhile, state officials and advocacy group executives warned electric customers on Tuesday that, like it or not, they need to get ready for higher rates next year.

Sen. Bob Duff, D-Norwalk, urged the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority to consider phasing in any rate increases. The request came a day after PURA issued a preliminary decision on CL&P’s request to raise consumer costs by a total of $230 million.

PURA’s draft decision would reduce that by more than $100 million, but that would still increase rates significantly.

CL&P, the state’s largest electric utility with 1.2 million residential and business customers, sought to increase the monthly service charge — a fixed fee most customers pay regardless of how much electricity they use — from the current $16 per month to $25.50. PURA said it would approve $19.25 per month.

Duff asked PURA to particularly consider phasing in any change to that fee.

“To the extent that rate increases cannot be avoided, particularly any flat fees, I propose that PURA gradually phase them in over time,” he said in a news release. “Spreading out such an increase in equal amounts over four years would provide ratepayers with time to plan for these expenses, and help to alleviate an abrupt and unexpected transition to new rates.”

PURA has scheduled a hearing on the draft decision for Dec. 12, and expects to issue a final decision Dec. 17.

Duff’s request followed a separate news conference held in the Legislative Office Building in Hartford by state Consumer Counsel Elin Swanson Katz; Senate Majority Leader Martin M. Looney, D-New Haven, and executives from AARP and the Connecticut Consumer Action Group. They stressed the need for consumers to begin budgeting for higher rates, and to take steps to conserve energy and shop for better rates from alternate suppliers.

That applies not only to CL&P customers, they said, but also to customers of United Illuminating. Last month, PURA approved increases to both CL&P’s and UI’s standard service rates.

Katz, who represents consumers in utility rate cases, said CL&P customers will see a combined increase of $25.60 per month over a two-week period in January.

Erlingheuser said seniors and those on fixed incomes will be hardest hit, since they “already pay the highest percentage of their income on utility bills.” He joined Katz and Attorney General George Jepsen in warning consumers to “do their homework” before switching suppliers.

Jepsen issued a news release noting that a state law passed earlier this year “provides for greater disclosures and transparency in the third-party electric market,” but warned that “it remains important to understand all of the terms and conditions” before signing a contract.

Sen. Robert J. Kane, R- Watertown, and Sen. Joseph C. Markley, R-Southington, said they were pleased with PURA’s proposed reductions to CL&P’s request, and believe it was a direct result of public outcry.

They joined other GOP senators in collecting signatures on an petition opposing CL&P’s rate hike request, and said they turned over petitions signed by more than 1,000 of their constituents before the draft decision was issued.

“It had a lot to do with public opinion and outcry,” Kane said of PURA’s proposed cuts. “The public made its case to PURA.”

Visit to search for an alternate supplier of electricity.