Assembly moves to ban variable rate electric contracts

May 21, 2015

AVON, Conn. (WTNH) — Last year, 74-year-old Will Gauster switched his electricity supplier to get a better rate, but ended up paying much more than if he had never switched at all because when the rate contract expired, his rate skyrocketed without warning.

Gauster is a retired physicist that worked on nuclear space propulsion, an actual rocket scientist who couldn’t keep from being hoodwinked by a contract from an electric supplier.

“In spite of my fairly extensive scientific background, I had a hard time really dealing with this system of electric utilities,” he said.

He’s not the only one.

“I got burned because the rate went up very quickly,” said Bob Rodman.

A new law that goes into effect on July 1 requires the electric companies to tell you in advance what your rate will be for the next month so you can make a change to avoid rate shock, but state lawmakers from both parties say that new law doesn’t go far enough.

Rodman is another Connecticut resident that found using the state’s deregulated power supply system too tricky.

“I got clobbered with, fortunately, one month’s worth, but I caught it,” he said.

“The first state in the country to ban a variable rate contract,” said state Sen. Paul Doyle, D-Wethersfield, Democratic Chairman of the legislature’s Energy and Technology Committee.

In an unusual joint news conference, Democrats and Republicans announced that the state Senate is poised to pass a total ban on variable rate contracts by electric power suppliers. The Senate passed the bill later Wednesday.

“Moving forward, we’ll eliminate the volatility that these variable rate contracts provide,” said Sen. Paul Formica of East Lyme, the Committee’s ranking Republican.

Once given final passage in the House and signed by the Governor, the new law banning all variable rate contracts for electricity will go into effect on October 1st.