Norm Needleman


Norm Needleman



June 5, 2023


Today, State Senator Norm Needleman (D-Essex), Senate Chair of the Energy & Technology Committee, applauded the House’s final passage of Senate Bill 7, a major Senate priority that will work to provide relief for Connecticut utility ratepayers through adjustments to regulations and company use of funds among numerous other significant changes.

Senate Bill 7’s advances in the name of consumer relief include prevention of utility service companies from using ratepayer funds for lobbying expenses as well as board of director and officer food, drink, transportation and entertainment; creating a fund allowing for ratepayers to have legal representation to challenge proposed utility rate increases; and creating a stronger regulatory environment for state utilities.

“I’m proud to see that our hard work in the Energy & Technology Committee will provide newfound benefits to Connecticut consumers at a time when costs continue to pressure us,” said Sen. Needleman. “Ratepayers in Connecticut have called for improvement for far too long, and Senate Bill 7 seeks to answer their concerns. Tying regulation to service quality will keep companies honest. Closing loopholes will stop companies from using ratepayer funds on lobbying, advertising and egregious transportation spending, such as helicopters for CEOs. It provides newfound power to consumers, giving them a voice in rate increases. It’s going to give Connecticut ratepayers the quality service they’ve deserved for far too long. I’m grateful to my co-chair Representative Jonathan Steinberg, ranking member State Senator Ryan Fazio and the many others who helped send this bill to Governor Lamont’s desk to become law.”

Senate Bill 7, “An Act Strengthening Protections For Connecticut’s Consumers of Energy,” will overhaul Connecticut’s utilities industries through changes including, but not limited to: Barring utilities from charging ratepayers for expenses related to building political influence including lobbying, advertising, marketing, sponsorships and charitable contributions; Ending the practice that allows utilities to charge ratepayers for attorneys, expert witnesses and other expenses at extravagant costs; they would be required to pay for expenses from shareholder profits. Between 2016 and 2021, Connecticut electric utilities spent more than $110 million on regulatory commission expenses; PURA would have increased authority to order rate decoupling for electric or gas company rate increases. Decoupling is a regulatory mechanism that is designed to separate the interests of utilities and shareholders from those of companies and society by decoupling revenue from sales volume. This is intended to disincentivize companies selling more energy to increase revenue and profits, instead encouraging them to meet key performance metrics to meet the best interests of ratepayers; The state would create an Intervenor Compensation program, becoming the 17th state to allow ratepayers and groups representing them to receive compensation for attorney’s fees and expert witnesses to participate in rate cases before PURA; The bill will further increase the breadth of conditions PURA can consider in determining rate hearing rates of return, greater discretion to determine deadlines for electric distribution companies to refund funds exceeding authorized return on equity, and allow them to adopt proposed settlements when appropriate. It would also sunset at least one Eversource utility charge, develop guardrails for use of settlements and require the investigation of whether low-income rates for water and gas to be expanded

With this bill’s passage by the House today, it heads to Governor Lamont’s desk for his signature.