(WTNH) – Thousands of Eversource customers are facing higher utility rates this new year. State leaders and regulators are demanding answers.

Eversource met with state leaders and Connecticut’s Public Utility Regulatory Authority (PURA) for nearly three hours on Tuesday morning to discuss how the utility company sets rates in the states it serves. Lawmakers are calling the higher standard rates a crisis, especially in these colder winter months.

State Senators Bob Duff and Norm Needleman say it’s unacceptable, cruel, and causing a lot of pain for people.

“I find it inexplicable how a company as large as Eversource and with the purchasing power of Eversouce, has seen their standard rate increase more than any electric company in Connecticut,” Duff said.

“We still are left wit the winter reliability problem for not an insignificant amount of time, which puts residents of all of our states at great risk,” Needleman said.

It’s a risk for thousands of Eversource customers in Connecticut facing higher standard service rates in this new year. Company leaders cite surging, ongoing global demand for natural gas and conflict in Europe for the cause.

“We know it’s not good news, certainly, for customers to know that prices are rising, but nonetheless, we’ve taken it on and have been active in it,” said James Daily, Vice President of Energy Supply for Eversource.

The company says this includes informing customers ahead of time, offering programs and payment plans to face costs they can’t control.

“We are not the final decision-maker on these, but we try to weigh in and provide guidance and expertise,” said James Shcukerow, Director of Energy Supply for Eversource.

Needleman says people should look for other options and pay plans as state legislators search for more resources.

“We’re going to be looking to make sure that no one loses their power as a result of these ridiculously high rates,” Needleman said.

Leaders say Tuesday morning’s hearing is only the state of the inquiry into the higher service rates and not the end of the investigation.