Addressing Surging Electrical Costs

Posted on November 22, 2022


HARTFORD – Please be aware that our electricity prices will be surging this winter. Eversource and United Illuminating have requested approval by the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA) to increase electricity rates from 12.1 cents per kWh to 24.2 cents per kWh, and 10.62 cents per kWh to 31.94 cents per kWh, respectively, starting January 1, 2023. Please see this November 17, 2022 consumer alert from the Office of Consumer Counsel.

While this alert says rates are rising mainly because of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, same time last year, Eversource and United Illuminating requested a rate hike then, too. See this November 4, 2021 consumer alert from the Office of Consumer Counsel. A year ago, recovery from COVID shutdowns was blamed for increased energy demand.

BIGGER PICTURE:

The fact is federal actions and policies on oil and gas do impact us directly here in Connecticut. One of President Biden’s first actions since taking office on January 4, 2021 when the average price of gasoline was $2.25, was to revoke approval for the Keystone XL pipeline and impose a moratorium on oil and gas leasing on federal lands and waters. These moves are a part of Biden’s climate agenda and his target to achieve net-zero carbon emissions for the country.

Most recently, at the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP27), the Biden administration agreed that the US will pay climate reparations to poorer countries in the world.

Europe is ahead of the United States on aggressively pursuing a climate agenda and net-zero carbon emissions energy grid. See this op-ed entitled, “Germany’s painful lesson for U.S. climate warriors on the dangers of going green,” which highlights Germany’s reversals in energy policy. Unfortunately, for the people of Germany, these won’t prevent power cuts this winter. See this article on how the country is now bracing for widespread discontent.

CONNECTICUT PICTURE:

Under Lamont and the Democrat majority’s plans, ignoring lessons from other countries like Germany, Connecticut is going full speed ahead towards a net-zero carbon economy. Last year, the legislature passed, and the governor signed, SB10: An Act Concerning Climate Change Mitigation that puts into law that Connecticut must be zero carbon by 2040 (I voted No on this bill because it is poor public policy that will unnecessarily force greater subsidies for expensive and unreliable energy and continue to drive up electricity prices even more in our state).

WHAT MUST HAPPEN IN CONNECTICUT:

(1) Dramatically Reduce or Remove Public Policy costs from Electric Bills

Biden’s recent “Inflation Reduction Act” created a National Green Bank to help federally fund more green energy projects. Connecticut was the first state in the country to create a “green bank.” In fact, it is exactly these “public policy” costs that MUST be dramatically reduced or removed from our electric bills and paid for out of the General Fund. This will make the politicians directly accountable for the cost increases of their policy ideas, not allowing them to push such spending off the state’s budget and onto our electric bill.

(2) Restore True Independence to the Office of Consumer Counsel

The Malloy-Lamont administrations stripped the ratepayer’s voice from energy deliberations. They defanged the Office of Consumer Counsel – the entity charged exclusively with defending ratepayers in the ratemaking process – and put it under the authority of the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Commissioner. Similarly, even PURA, the body that decides rate cases was also put under the thumb of the DEEP Commissioner. 

This structure ensures that ratepayers have no voice in the decisions about how much they pay for electricity. Imagine your boss submitting a plan to you and asking you to decide if you approve your boss’s plan? It is a perverse set up that puts the ratepayer last.

No other state has this structure. While Commissioner Dykes testified before the legislature that other states regulate like this, only Massachusetts comes somewhat close. In fact, 49 other states specifically do not have a structure with these types of glaring conflicts of interest. Note too that MA is a false comparison since it has a much bigger pool of participants, which fosters natural competition that keeps things honest. Plus, the MA Consumer Advocate works via the Attorney General’s office, not the Energy policy department.

Dramatically reducing or removing public policy costs from the electric bill and restoring true independence to the Office of Consumer Counsel and PURA are IMPORTANT structural changes that must happen in CT regarding energy policy making. As I will not be your state representative in the next session, I strongly urge you to demand this advocacy from your next state representative. 

A TOWN FORUM IN GREENWICH RE: FEDERAL AND STATE ENERGY POLICY

Please join First Selectman Fred Camillo, Greenwich Communities Chairman Sam Romeo, and Department of Human Services Director Demetria Nelson this Wednesday, November 23, at 3 p.m. in the Town Hall Meeting Room for an informational forum on energy costs and potential opportunities for assistance. They will be sharing links and numbers as well as advice as we face escalating energy costs as the winter approaches.

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