April 11, 2024

Public Utilities Regulatory Authority Saves Consumers Millions

Court rulings issued by the Connecticut Superior Court in February and March saved consumers in the state millions of dollars, supporting efforts by the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority to better regulate utility companies in the state.

In March, the Supreme Court upheld PURA’s decision in 2023 to decrease Aquarion Water Company’s water rates for customers. Aquarion, owned by Eversource, initially sought a rate increase that would increase customers’ water bills by 11%. After reviewing the request, PURA found inconsistencies and instead ordered a rate decrease – one that decreased customers’ bills by 11%.

State Senator Norm Needleman and Attorney General William Tong supported the court decision to uphold the rate decrease, with Needleman noting it reflected work completed in recent years to hold utilities accountable and Tong noting Aquarion’s proposal sought “excessive, unsupported profits” and “unnecessary ratepayer-supported projects” that would have increased consumer costs.

This came after a February decision upholding PURA’s action against GenConn Energy, LLC, a joint venture of United Illuminating. Reviewing a request by GenConn to seek additional capital funds from the state, PURA found it used what it called “accounting gimmicks.” GenConn reduced its capital costs by reducing its lower-cost debts, but did not pass those savings along to consumers; PURA saved consumers $3 million by identifying the issue.

Sen. Needleman supported this decision as well, noting that PURA’s action was meant to support Connecticut electricity consumers.

These actions come as PURA and state legislators on the Energy & Technology Committee have worked in recent years to enhance Connecticut’s regulatory environment. Enhancements include a shift to a environment where utility companies’ performance is tied to their regulations, incentivizing quality service, and increased penalties in the event of extended power outages after storms.

Posted by Joe O’Leary