NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — Connecticut residents face increases of as much as 50% in their monthly electric bills as Eversource and United Illuminating (UI) filed new supply rates with the state’s Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA), citing surging ongoing global demand for natural gas.
On average, an Eversource residential electric customer who uses 700-kilowatt hours of power each month could see an increase of approximately 48% or $84.85 over their current monthly bill, the company said. UI customers could see an increase of approximately 43% or $79.24 over their current monthly bill, the company said.
Unless PURA finds a problem with the plan, Eversource’s proposed “standard service rate” for its residential customers would change from 12.1 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh) to 24.2 cents per kWh, compared to 11.5 cents per kWh last winter. UI said the rate for its residential customers will rise from 10.62 to 21.94 cents per kWh.
The supply portion of the bill is considered a “pass-through” cost, according to Eversource, which said that the price doesn’t generate a profit for the company. Suppliers generate the electricity, which Eversource then buys and passes to the electric grid. Customers looking for a cheaper rate may select a third-party supplier if they choose.
The new supply rates would be in effect from Jan. 1, 2023, through June 30, 2023, the companies said. The supply rate changes on Jan. 1 and July 1 of each year.
“We know how challenging increased energy costs are for our customers who are already frustrated with rising prices for other basic, daily needs, and we want to help them manage their energy bills as much as possible,” said Eversource Executive Vice President of Customer Experience and Energy Strategy Penni Conner.
“We understand that the unprecedented state of the global energy market is having real, burdensome impacts on the everyday lives of families across Connecticut, so we are focused on making sure UI customers are aware of, and prepared for, these rising supply costs and understand the programs we have to help,” said Frank Reynolds, president and CEO of UI.
Eversource CEO Joseph Nolan, Jr., called on President Joe Biden earlier this year to address concerns about a potential energy shortfall.
“I respectfully urge you, Mr. President, to employ the emergency powers of the federal government to take all steps to ensure that adequate fuel resources will be available in the event of severe weather conditions in New England this winter,” Nolan said in the letter.
Lawmakers and Officials Respond
Gov. Ned Lamont (D-Conn.) said he will call the General Assembly into a special session to address electricity and heating oil costs.
“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, and I call on UI and Eversource to come to the table with solutions that recognize their investors and executives can and should support customers while we work together towards long-term solutions that untether us from the volatility of global fossil fuel markets,” Lamont said.
Connecticut Attorney General William Tong said while these rates always fluctuate between winter and summer, “this is not normal.”
“This is a massive increase that will be unaffordable for many Connecticut families and businesses,” Tong said. “We pay far too much for our energy in Connecticut as it is, and these winter rates are nothing short of punishing. My office has intervened on behalf of consumers at each and every rate case before the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission because we know how much the cost of energy impacts family budgets. We have next to no ability to challenge these supply rates, which is frustrating.”
Consumer Counsel Claire Coleman said she is “greatly concerned” about the impact of rising supply rates.
“Customers are now facing doubling supply prices while also contending with higher costs for home heating, food, and other necessities,” Coleman said. “This is a result of a global energy crisis that warrants an all-of-government response.”
If you are in need of home heating assistance, call 211, or apply to the Connecticut Energy Assistance Program. Basic benefits toward heating bills range between $410 and $1,015, depending on the household’s income level.
Eversource can visit Eversource.com/Billhelp to read more about payment options or call 1-800-286-2828 (electric) or 800-438-2278 (gas). Eversource is also hosting two webinars to help customers understand their options on Dec. 1 and Dec. 8.
United Illuminating also has several programs to help customers who need assistance paying their bills. Customers can visit the UI website or call (800) 722-5584 for more information.+
Operation Fuel Assistance provides emergency energy and utility assistance to those facing acing financial crisis. Call (860) 243-2345 or visit https://operationfuel.org/gethelp/
Connecticut residents can compare energy prices at EnergizeCT and sign up with an alternative energy supplier.
Unite CT offers heating assistance for tenants and landlords. Eligible renters with overdue or unpaid electricity bills can receive funding for their Eversource or UI accounts.
Short-Term Energy Outlook
The U.S. Energy Information and Administration’s November short-term energy outlook said that U.S. sales of electricity would increase 2.7% this year due to economic activity and hotter summer. However, electricity sales are predicted to drop by .9% next year.
Natural gas-fueled 38% of the nation’s electricity generation this year, an increase of one percentage point from the previous year. It is expected to drop to 36% in 2023.
The forecast estimated that wholesale electricity prices at major power hubs would be 20% to 60% higher this winter, with the highest prices to be in New England due to “possible natural gas pipeline constraints, reduced fuel inventories for power generation, and uncertainty regarding liquefied natural gas (LNG) shipments given the tight global supply conditions.”
The outlook estimated that the residential price of energy would increase by 8% from 2021 across the nation, reaching an average of 14.9 cent kWh.