HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — Connecticut Attorney General William Tong on Thursday applauded the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority’s draft decision that would rejected a proposed $36 million rate hike from Aquarion.
“Connecticut consumers have borne the burden of relentless rate increases for years now. This, finally, is a massive victory for Connecticut ratepayers,” Tong said in a written statement. “When Aquarion first issued its plan, I knew Connecticut consumers – especially those on fixed or limited incomes – simply couldn’t be asked to shoulder yet another costly hit to their finances, which is why I fought this proposal from the start. I thank PURA for rejecting Aquarion’s proposed hike and for protecting Connecticut families and consumers from having to pay for an excessive and unwarranted hike. I strongly urge PURA to hold firm in its conclusion as it works toward issuing a final decision on this matter in mid-March.”
Aquarion, which is owned by Eversource, planned to increase water rates by more than 30% over a three-year period for more than 236,000 customers. The draft decision orders for Aquarion to decrease the rate to .192%.
In his response, Tong asks PURA to also reject a 10.35% return on equity for Aquarion shareholders. The PURA draft capped that profit at 8.7%.
Connecticut utility bills have already skyrocketed this year, with Eversource and United Illuminating rate hikes increasing electric bills by $80 a month for the average customer.
“Draft decisions resulting from rate cases are important because they allow for an open and transparent discussion into the rationale underlying the draft decision issued by PURA,” Aquarion said in a written statement to News 8. “Aquarion has made more than $740 million in investments in new infrastructure and services since in the last rate case in 2013. These investments are the critical infrastructure that approximately 725,000 customers rely on for clean water supply. This draft decision raises significant questions and uncertainty as to our ability to continue these investments into the future. While we understand the drive to affordability, it cannot come at the cost of lost investment that will ultimately harm customer interests. We will engage with PURA in the coming weeks as we look to find the right balance of affordability and access to clean, reliable water supply across our Connecticut systems.”