Conn. warns consumers of electricity price spikes

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 16, 2014 at 4:03 pm •  Published: January 16, 2014
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HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Connecticut's attorney general and consumer advocate warned electricity customers on Thursday about price spikes by some power suppliers that are nearly double what the two regulated utilities are charging.

Attorney General George Jepsen and Consumer Counsel Elin Swanson Katz said thousands of customers are being charged 17 cents per kilowatt hour and some nearly 25 cents per kilowatt hour. Connecticut Light & Power customers pay 9.2 cents and United Illuminating Co. charges its customers 9 cents per kilowatt hour.

Fluctuating, or variable, rates are part of the problem, they said.

"A number of companies offer variable rate products that are marketed with an attractive and competitive teaser rate that is quickly replaced by significantly higher charges without notice," Jepsen said.

Officials also have received complaints about customers who said they were automatically transferred from fixed-rate arrangements to "exorbitantly high variable rate products."

The state Public Utilities Regulatory Authority is investigating. Regulators say they will establish rules and guidelines for electric suppliers and electric distribution companies concerning customer switching practices, fixed and variable rates and other details.

A call to Discount Power in Shelton, which was among several companies cited by Jepsen and Katz, was answered by a recorded voice saying that the price increases are due to extremely high demand for energy during the winter's fierce cold spells. It said it expects prices to fall after the end of winter.

Dawn Moran, a Discount Power customer who lives in Meriden, said Thursday she was told her rate was fixed but her most recent bill charged her 23 cents a kilowatt hour, nearly three times the 8 cents she was previously paying. Her monthly bill skyrocketed to $435, up from $191 last month, she said.