HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) – Starting in January, 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.
Company estimates show that Eversource consumers could pay $85 more monthly, and UI customers could pay $79 more monthly.
“No consideration of anything, they just go u on our bills, and all we can do is pay it or be without lights,” Veronica Lowery, a UI customer in Hamden, said.
The three-member PURA board does not have the power to control the increase. An old law passed more than 20 years ago is the culprit.
“I can’t control the profit of a generator that’s located in Massachusetts, for example,” Marissa Gillett, the chair of PURA, explained.
READ: PURA’s letters to Eversource and UI acknowledging requested supply rate increases
State Sen. Paul Formica, the Republican ranking member on the legislature’s Energy Committee, admits, “I think there should and will be a conversation about further untying the hands of PURA.”
By removing the watchdog’s power through deregulating the energy world, some fear a system was created that hurts consumers.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if many states who were deregulated are looking at whether they can reinstate or re-empower some of their own regulatory commissions,” Gillett said.
Initially, the law was intended to open the market for consumers to shop around for the best deal. But experts say 80% of people stay on the default service of the utility company, unaware of options.
Formica said supply is a factor.
“We are at the end of a pipeline here for gas,” he said. “We are restricted on what we can get, and natural gas drives the price up.”
The state has negotiated good deals on nuclear, wind, and solar power. As a result, you may see an automatic $10 credit on your bill.
READ | Letter from utility companies to PURA asking for early credits
Vermont, Virginia, and some midwestern states allow their watchdog agency to crack down on price spikes.
Gillett explains with a change in law, “The regulator can do anything from smoothing out those rate increases; they can control the profit the utility is earning.”
Lawmakers in Connecticut are considering a change, but it will not be soon. Consumers should shop around on EnergizeCT.com – the marketplace to choose another supplier and save money.
The new supply rates would be effective from Jan. 1, 2023, through June 30, 2023. The supply rate changes on Jan. 1 and July 1 of each year.
Prices historically go down because energy supplies go up.
If you need 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.
Nearly 52,000 households have already applied for the Connecticut Energy Assistance Program this season. Benefits are available for households with incomes up to 60% of the state median income, which is about $75,465 for a family of four.
Eversource can visit Eversource.com/Billhelp to read more about payment options or call 1-800-286-2828 (electric) or 800-438-2278 (gas).
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.