by Christian Wade
Connecticut energy consumers will be digging deeper into their pockets this winter with the state’s two largest utilities seeking hefty rate increases.
In a filing to the state Public Utilities Regulatory Authority, Eversource is proposing to increase electric rates charged to consumers by nearly 50%, or $85 per month for the average customer.
Meanwhile, United Illuminating is also seeking rate increases that would bump up the average bill for customers by about $80 a month, according to filings with state regulators.
The companies cite energy costs that continue to rise globally as regional electric supply prices reach all-time highs this year due to increased demand, and the high cost of natural gas, extreme weather, and other issues.
Connecticut’s leaders decried the proposed rate increases, saying the higher electricity costs will be “unaffordable” for many of the state’s families and businesses.
“I am disappointed electric distribution utilities are enjoying historic profits at the same time electric generation rates are increasing and customers are experiencing economic hardships,” Gov. Ned Lamont said in a statement.
Lamont said he plans to call the General Assembly into a special session to consider legislation to help residents pay utility bills this winter, including additional funding for the state’s energy assistance program.
Energy bills reflect a combination of supply prices, which are based largely on market conditions, and delivery prices, which are set by state and federal regulators.
Utilities point out that winter rates are pass-through charges, that only cover the cost of power, which they don’t control and are not allowed to profit from under state law.
Connecticut already has some of the highest energy costs in the nation, and increased electricity rates will have a particular impact on many low-income households, officials say.
Attorney General William Tong noted state leaders have little or no authority to challenge the utility’s proposed rate increases, which he called “frustrating.”
“Our supply rates always fluctuate between winter and summer, but this is not normal,” he said in a statement. “We are seeing a huge global spike in gas costs due to the war in Ukraine and Russian manipulation of gas supplies.”
The state Office of Consumer Counsel is reaching out to the utilities’ customers to let them know about payment plans, managed billing options, state and federal assistance programs and energy-saving tips to help them reduce their monthly bills. Customers might also save money on bills by switching to a third-party supplier, the office says.
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Christian Wade is a contributor to The Center Square.
Photo “Ned Lamont” by Office of Governor Ned Lamont. Photo “William Tong” by William Tong. Background Photo “Powerlines” by versageek. CC BY-SA 2.0.