Photo of Senator Lesser.

State Senator

Matt Lesser

Representing Cromwell, Middletown, Newington, Rocky Hill and Wethersfield

Senator Lesser Urges Rejection of Proposed Eversource Rate Increase


Today, State Senator Matt Lesser (D-Middletown) testified against and sent a letter to the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA) strongly urging them to reject the proposed Eversource rate increase. Senator Lesser says the increases hit Connecticut at the worst possible time, during a summer heat wave and during a global pandemic.

“We didn’t need a pandemic to know that the price of electricity is a problem in Connecticut,” said Sen. Lesser.

“They are bludgeoning families, seniors and businesses at a time when 40% of renters in Connecticut are already facing eviction, when small businesses are shuttering, and unemployment is near record highs,” said Sen. Lesser.

In his testimony, Sen. Lesser argued that the pandemic should void a contract Eversource recently entered into that locks Connecticut customers into higher than market rates for ten years.

See below for full text of letter:


Dear Chairman Gillett and Members of PURA,

I am urging you to reject the proposed Eversource rate increase.

The increases hit Connecticut at the worst possible time, during a summer heat wave, in a global pandemic that had directly caused the worst economic collapse since the Great Depression. They are bludgeoning families, seniors and businesses at a time when 40% of renters in Connecticut are already facing eviction, when small businesses are shuttering, and unemployment is near record highs.

1. The Rate Increases are directly due to the Millstone Contract

90% of the Eversource distribution increase is due to the contract between Eversource and Dominion Energy entered into pursuant to PA 17-3, according to an analysis by DEEP. In 2017, Connecticut residents already paid some of the highest electric rates in the country, but that law was intended to drive rates even higher, because some lawmakers decided to force the creation a contract to subsidize the continued operation of the Millstone Nuclear Facility, owned by Dominion. I recognize why the continued operation of Millstone, Connecticut’s largest generation facility, could be in the best interest of ratepayers. But the contract entered into pursuant to PA 17-3 forces an above-market-rate subsidy which will raise electric rates until 2030. This is the most outrageous example of corporate welfare I have seen in my 12 years in the legislature and the existing contract is clearly not in the interest of Connecticut’s ratepayers.

2. Force Majeure can and should be invoked to void the Contract

If the increases are rejected, Eversource can and should claim Force Majeure to exit the contract pursuant to Section 10 of the Dominion agreement.

The pandemic - much more than the related recession - is responsible for dramatically changing the face of energy consumption in Connecticut. Commuting patterns have changed, a major heat wave (itself an Act of God) has hit, and we have learned, in responding to the pandemic, how critical regional partnerships are to our economic security. Even before the pandemic, regional cooperation was central to energy policy planning, through RGGI, ISO and other mechanisms.

3. If the Millstone Contract is voided, Millstone can still operate

The NRC, FERC and ISO will prevent Millstone from shutting down in the near term if Dominion loses its subsidy and decides to shutter its operations. That would allow regional stakeholders - including ISO - to examine the option of a regional subsidy that would, for example, allow Eversource’s customers in Massachusetts to support the regional benefit provided by Millstone.

Sincerely,

Matthew Lesser



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