State works with utilities on customer relief plan to reduce energy costs

(KTUU)
Published: Nov. 28, 2022 at 10:55 AM EST|Updated: Nov. 28, 2022 at 12:17 PM EST
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HARTFORD, CT (WFSB) - Connecticut’s governor said his administration worked with state departments and utility companies to do more for customers amid high electricity prices.

Gov. Ned Lamont said Eversource and United Illuminating agreed to work with state leaders on a short-term “Customer Relief Plan” to provide immediate relief to electric customers this winter.

Lamont held a news conference at 11 a.m. Monday at the state capitol:

Gov. Ned Lamont and other state officials spoke about energy rates during a news conference on Nov. 28.

He was joined by Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Commissioner Katie Dykes, Department of Social Services Commissioner Deidre Gifford, and Consumer Counsel Claire Coleman.

Earlier this month, Eversource and United Illuminating said they filed requests with state regulators to raise electric rates.

Since then, Connecticut state leaders said they wanted to act quickly to push forward with options to reduce bill impacts for low and middle-income customers who have struggled to pay electric bills under the current economic circumstances.

Lamont said the package of near-term actions developed through the combined efforts of his administration, DEEP, Coleman, Eversource, and UI was in part the result of benefits from the long-term clean energy power contracts signed at the direction of the governor and the Connecticut General Assembly to help secure the future of the Millstone nuclear power plant and other carbon-free generation resources.

The governor said the Eversource and UI have also agreed to corporate contributions for energy assistance to provide support for customers.

“I appreciate Eversource and UI working with us to identify creative near-term actions that will help provide Connecticut residents with some relief from high energy costs and the significant impending rate increase on Jan. 1,” Lamont said. “Keeping Millstone online has proven to be a great investment for Connecticut, and it’s important that residents feel the benefit of the net profits generated by the plant when they most need it. I also appreciate that this plan includes Eversource and UI corporate funding that will go to Operation Fuel for an energy assistance program. Complex issues call for creative solutions, and this public-private partnership paired with the energy assistance actions expected to be taken by the General Assembly in special session today will provide residents with some much-needed relief and protection this winter.”

The plan includes the following elements:

  • Monday, Eversource and UI will file a motion with the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA) seeking approval for the establishment of bill credits to fast-track the return of long-term power contract earnings to all customers starting January 1, 2023. This proposal will provide Eversource customers with a monthly bill credit of around $10 per month – approximately 12.5% of the average customer increase this winter – for the peak winter months starting January 1, 2023, and continuing through April. Data on how this will impact UI customers is being calculated and is expected to be available soon.
  • The companies will also seek approval for a discount for low-income hardship customers to accelerate the 2021 Take Back Our Grid Act provision enabling a low-income discount rate by providing a flat-rate credit to financial hardship customers starting in January 2023 until the new PURA-approved low-income discount rate goes into effect in 2024.
  • In order to provide additional assistance to customers struggling with unusually high energy prices this winter, the Customer Relief Plan also includes an Eversource shareholder expense of $10 million for energy assistance to customers in need, including moderate and middle-income customers who are struggling to pay their bills.
  • UI has agreed to pay $3 million to Operation Fuel for direct assistance for electricity and heating costs, subject to PURA’s approval of a settlement agreement with the Office of Consumer Counsel.