HARTFORD, CT (WFSB) - Customers are irate over an increase in their electric bills.
Eversource customers have been posting to social media and writing to Channel 3 about, in some cases, paying nearly double what they usually pay.
As of July 1, 2020, Eversource said it passed along a rate increase to customers due to a state mandated agreement with the Millstone Nuclear Power Plant to buy power.
Eversource said the rate increase, along with more people working from home and more air conditioning used in the summer heat, led to some eye-popping bills.
"I've gone from $344 a month to $745," said Tony DiLeone of Litchfield, who owns a three-bedroom house.
Channel 3 spoke with Mitch Gross, spokesperson for Eversource, and asked why this came in middle of the COVID-19 pandemic.
"This is state mandated," Gross said. "This is based on state legislation approved and announced in 2019. It’s a power purchase agreement between us and the Millstone Nuclear Power Plant. That's the increase on the delivery side of our customers' bills."
Last year, the state legislature approved the 10 year power purchase agreement that allowed Eversource to buy power from Millstone.
"All the elements in a person's utility bill, every piece of it is reviewed and approved by state regulators, the Connecticut public utilities regulatory authority," Gross said.
Dominion Energy, which owns the Millstone Plant says Eversource is not telling the whole story.
In an email to Channel 3, their spokesperson said, "The power is being sold at a flat rate of 4.999 cents per kilowatt hour, the lowest price for carbon free resource in Connecticut published to date and 32 percent lower than the lowest standard offer price ever from Eversource, which is roughly 7 cents per kilowatt hour. This contract went into effect in October 2019, nine months before Eversource's latest rate increases. It was vetted and approved by all state energy regulators."
DiLeone said he's lucky he didn't lose his job as a result of the pandemic.
"This month with July, my delivery rate went from 10 cents per kilowatt hour to 17 cents per kilowatt hour," he said.
Gross said Eversource is working to help people facing financial difficulty.
"We understand. They need to reach out to us to call us, talk to a customer care representative. Let’s see what your situation is and lets see what kind of payment program we may be able to create for you to help ease some of the pressure we are all facing during these unprecedented times."
Despite the explanation, it's not sitting well with customers.
"If the bill had increased $20, $30 dollars, I wouldn't even have thought about this, but $130 is quite a lot of money," said Vincent Delaria of Bolton.
Some lawmakers have also taken notice.
"I think historically rate making in Connecticut, this is going back decades, has favored the utilities," said Rep. David Arconti, a Democrat who represents Danbury.
Arconti co-chairs the state legislature's energy and technology committee.
It also got the attention of Attorney General William Tong.
"We're taking these complaints very seriously as we always do," Tong said.
Tong says his office has a unit dedicated to utilities. It investigates billing complaints and also argues against legislative and regulatory changes.
Eversource said there are also things people can do at home to reduce their bills.
They can raise the temperature on the thermostat a few degrees, keep filters clean, make sure furniture and rugs aren't blocking vents and unplug devices.
Changes 20 rates happen twice a year, on Jan. 1 and July 1.
State regulators approve those adjustments.
As of 7:20 a.m. on Monday, it garnered 44,900 of 50,000 signatures.
In the Vote Now poll, 95 percent of viewers said they saw an increase in their latest Eversource bill. If you would like to vote in the poll, click here.