Attorney General George Jepsen and Consumer Counsel Elin Swanson Katz have come out opposing a request by Connecticut Light & Power (CL&P) to raise its rates by $221 million. CL&P filed its rate application on June 9, 2014.
If granted, the new rate would represent a jump of more than 20% on the delivery portion of customer bills and an overall rate increase of 7% for the average customer, according to a press release from Mr. Jepsen’s office.
In a brief filed last week, Mr. Jepsen urged the state Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA) to reject the application and adopt more than $90 million in downward adjustments to the company’s rate request.
In addition, Mr. Jepsen said CL&P should be penalized at least $28 million — $9.4 million per year for three years — for its inadequate and deficient performance preparing for and responding to the major storms in 2011.
CL&P issued the following response to Mr. Jepsen’s statement.
“Our request for a rate adjustment is driven primarily by expenditures to replace aging infrastructure and strengthen the electric system. Over time, we need to make significant investments to provide our customers with the reliable service they expect and deserve. We have also worked hard to hold the line on rising operating costs, as we build an electric system that is stronger, more reliable and more efficient for the future.”
The attorney general also urged PURA to reject CL&P’s proposal to raise its residential customer service charge 60% — from $16 to $25.50 a month — as unnecessary, overly burdensome and poor public policy, and said PURA should not approve any customer service charge above the $16 per month currently charged.
The proposed increase to customer service charges is what Ms. Katz took aim at earlier this week. In addition to homeowners, churches, schools and small businesses would be similarly affected.
The increase would raise the monthly rate on small businesses from $38.50 to $55, and on churches and schools from $47.40 to $70.
Ms. Katz said, if approved, those increases “ would make their customer service charges the highest in New England and some of the highest in the country.”
The Office of Consumer Counsel, which is the state’s advocate for all utility ratepayers, requested the rates actually be lowered to $11.50 for residential customers, $20.90 for small businesses, and $23.47 for churches and schools.
The Office of Consumer Counsel also urged PURA to reject the overall rate application, recommending the increase be reduced to $108.6 million, and agreed CL&P be penalized for its inadequate storm response.
“While we recognize that the company has made major improvements in its storm response practices since that time, there still needs to be a penalty imposed for the deficiencies of 2011 and 2012 — a penalty that saves consumers money.”
Regarding the call for penalties for past storm performances, CL&P said: “PURA has looked into our storm response and said it is clearly improved. We are always preparing to restore and respond.”