NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) -- Down at Christopher Martin's in New Haven cooking with gas is not just a saying, but many still don't have it as an option for heating. That's what utility companies are trying to create.
"The benefits are overwhelming compared to the costs," said Tony Marone, Sr. Vice President, United Illuminating, Southern CT Gas.
But what are the costs??
The Public Utilities Regulatory Authority is looking at a proposed plan. In it, new customers would see a 30 percent increase over seven years.
"It's only where we are expanding the system up to new areas where it doesn't exist that this rate structure would help them be able to pay for that overtime," said Marone.
"Why couldn't the companies absorb these costs," asked News 8's Stephanie Simoni.
"Well our plan is for new customers there will be a 30 percent increase that will last for seven years, but that really comes out of their savings," said Rodney Powell, Chief Operating Officer, Yankee Gas. "If you think about it a customer who is now on oil is probably paying 40 to 50 percent higher rates."
And when it comes to existing customers with this proposed plan they cannot increase rates, however, they could add a surcharge making bills go up.
"That's an issue we're looking at very closely," said Elin Katz. "We've argued that any impact on existing customers should be very limited and should be subject to a cap."
Consumer Counsel Elin Katz's job is to advocate for the customer. She supports Natural Gas expansion, they want to see modifications with how the plan stands now.
As for oil companies, Kate Childs from Tuxis-Ohr's Fuel says, "We're in a difficult time. Gas is much cheaper than oil."
Childs says Yankee Gas, Southern Connecticut Gas, and Connecticut Natural Gas should foot the bill for expansion.
"The utilities are trying to do everything they can do to expand their business, add as many pipelines in the state as they can, and use none of their own money to do so," Childs said, "and we just think that's unfair."
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