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Proposed new Connecticut utility rate draws fight

Published on NewsOK Modified: August 26, 2014 at 3:53 pm •  Published: August 26, 2014

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Consumer advocates and state officials are lining up against a request by Connecticut's largest utility to raise $232 million from a rate increase that would be used to upgrade equipment following destructive storms and toughen systems to prevent outages in the future.

Customers would pay an average $150 more a year, up about 6 percent, if regulators side with Connecticut Light & Power. The bulk of the increase would be higher monthly charges totaling $114 a year regardless of how much electricity is used, which critics say would undermine energy conservation.

William Dornbos, senior attorney at Environment Northeast, an advocacy group, called the rate request a "flawed proposal" that would make it harder for consumers to save electricity and money with energy-efficient appliances, rooftop solar panels and other flexible was to buy cheaper electricity.

"It conflicts with the many good things we're trying to do here in Connecticut to help electricity customers get control over their bills," he said.

CL&P, a subsidiary of Northeast Utilities, said about $117 million would pay for new and stronger poles, wires, transformers and substation upgrades. It already has permission from the state to recover $89.5 million for costs related to damage from storms in 2011 and 2012, and $25.3 million to protect equipment from storms in the future.

Mitch Gross, a spokesman for the utility, said the rate request is needed for capital improvements in equipment and systems. Electric reliability was better last year than in more than 10 years due to "targeted system improvements and replacements," he said.

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