Connecticut's largest energy utility, Eversource Energy, is seeking a $336.8 million increase in electricity rates over the next 3 years. If approved, the hike would boost Connecticut's resident's electricity bill over 6%.
Eversource claims they are seeking the rate increase to invest in the electrical grid. They hope to install more smart switches, stronger poles and wire, and do more tree trimming to protect power lines. They also hope to restore power faster after outages by investing in more fast response personnel.
The proposal comes after a huge storm hit Connecticut on Sunday leaving hundreds of thousands without power. Eversource says that thousands of down trees damaged electrical poles and lines across the state. As of Wednesday, 93% of residents had power restored but there are still thousands without power.
Eversource serves over 1.2 million customers electricity in Connecticut and over 200,000 customers natural gas. Craig Hallstrom, Eversource president of electric operations in Connecticut, said in the news release, "We're always working to better serve our customers and as a result, they are experiencing fewer and shorter outages thanks to the strategic investments we've made in the communities we serve."
Local officials are skeptical that Eversource has done all they could to prepare for the storm. "The proof is in the performance," said Lebanon First Selectwoman Betsy Petrie, adding that she believes Eversource staff cutbacks in recent years hampered its preparations and response to big storms.
If the rate hike is approved, Eversource estimates that the average energy bill will increase 6.7%. The hike will take effect in May of 2018. "It's certainly a substantial request," state Consumer Counsel Elin Swanson Katz said of the Eversource rate hike proposal. "We're going to take a hard look at it We're very sensitive to the extremely high cost of electricity in Connecticut and will make every effort to keep any increases as low as possible," she said.