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    Lamont, Eversource announce short-term plan to help CT customers as energy rates set to double


    November 29, 2022 - Don Stacom, Hartford Courant

     

      With electrical rates set to double on Jan. 1, Gov. Ned Lamont Monday announced a plan, developed with Connecticut officials and utility companies, that includes a series of actions to help customers struggling with record high electrical costs.

      Lamont announced the plan with DEEP Commissioner Katie Dykes, Consumer Counsel Claire Coleman and Eversource and United Illuminating officials Monday at the state Capitol.

      The plan includes establishing a bill credit that will return long-term power contract earnings to customers, giving Eversource customers a bill credit of about $10 per month. It would also establish a discount for low-income hardship customers during 2023, according to a release from Lamont. Eversource will allocate $10 million for low- and moderate-income customers who need help paying their bills while UI will give $3 million to Operation Fuel, which provides energy assistance to people in need.

      The announcement comes on the same day as a special legislative session during which Lamont and legislators hope to extend the 25-cent gas tax cut along with free bus rides. During the session, legislators plan to allocate an additional $30 million in funding for the state energy assistance program for low-income households. The money would come from American Rescue Plan Act funding to supplement $98.5 million of federal Low-Income Household Energy Assistance. Though costs are higher this year, federal aid has dropped as pandemic aid expired.

      Attorney General William Tong, who has been involved in rate negotiations with Eversource and UI over the past week, said he did not join the press conference today “absent a significant commitment from the two utilities” to offer customer relief.

      “Today’s filing will provide modest relief to Connecticut families crushed by the unaffordable spike in winter energy costs. It is an important first step and the discussions we have had over the past week have been sincere. That being said, I have asked Eversource and United Illuminating to do more. Specifically, I have asked them to contribute a percentage of shareholder earnings commensurate with the percentage increase their customers will pay this winter to keep their lights and heat on. To date, they have refused,” Tong said in a release, noting that the modest relief offered in the deal is paid for “by and large by the very same taxpayers and ratepayers already crushed by this crisis.

      “We need to take a hard look at who is profiting and who is harmed as we search for long term reform,” Tong said.

      The supply rate, which must be approved by Connecticut’s Public Utilities Regulatory Authority, would double from 12.05 cents per kilowatt-hour to 24.2 cents per kilowatt-hour, meaning an increase of $85 per month for the average customer. The utility companies do not profit off the supply rates, but are, Tong said, still making sizable profits through distribution rates. Eversource reported net income of $540 million for the past year, while UI reported $59 million, Tong said.

      This story will be updated.

      ©2022 Hartford Courant. Visit courant.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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