Martin M. Looney

Senate President Pro Tempore

Martin M. Looney

An Advocate for Us

December 14, 2016

Looney to PURA: Follow the Law and Provide UI Customers Relief from Unjustifiably High Charges

photo of electric meter.

Senate President Pro Tempore Martin M. Looney (D-New Haven) today called on Connecticut’s Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA) to follow the intent of a 2015 law and provide a lasting reduction in the level of fixed charges by setting clear limits on what electric utilities may charge as part of the fixed charges portion of the bill.

United Illuminating’s present fixed charge of $17.25 per month is exceeded only by Eversource’s even more burdensome fixed charge of $19.25 per month.

“The fixed charges that electric companies are forcing Connecticut residents to pay are outrageous,” said Senator Looney. “Senate Democrats stood up for consumers in 2015 by passing a law that limits what electric companies could charge under the fixed portion of electric bills. United Illuminating’s current fixed charge of $17.25 is nearly three times as high as Eversource’s current charge in Western Massachusetts. Even relative to the highest of these out-of-state charges, United Illuminating’s charge is still 33 percent greater. This type of high fixed charge is inherently regressive, curtailing the ability of low-income customers to decrease their bills by using less electricity, and also blunting the financial incentive for customers of all incomes to conserve energy and thus help preserve our treasured environment.”

United Illuminating’s and Eversource’s charges are greatly in excess of any comparable charges assessed by their peer electric utilities in our neighboring states, including by Eversource itself in both Massachusetts and New Hampshire.

Utility State Residential Fixed Charge
United Illuminating CT $17.25
Eversource CT $19.25
Eversource Western MA $6.00
Eversource NH $12.89
Unitil NH $10.27
Central Maine Power ME $12.88
City of Burlington Electric VT $8.21

In 2015, Democrats in the General Assembly passed §105 of Public Act 15-5, which specifically directs PURA to adjust both United Illuminating’s and Eversource’s residential fixed charges the next time either company files a request to amend its rates as UI has done with PURA.

(b) The Public Utilities Regulatory Authority shall adjust each electric distribution company’s residential fixed charge upon such company’s filing with the authority an amendment of rate schedules pursuant to section 16-19 of the general statutes to recover only the fixed costs and operation and maintenance expenses directly related to metering, billing, service connections and the provision of customer service.

The law is intended to produce a reduction in the current level of fixed charges by limiting and explicitly defining what costs and expenses the fixed charges can recover: only those directly related to metering, billing, service connections and customer service.

PURA is expected to make a final decision on UI’s fixed charges this week.