Study to Consider Elimination of Energy Demand Fees for Houses of Worship Passes House

Posted on May 23, 2019 by admin


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State Representative Arthur O’Neill (R-69) today applauded passage of legislation he proposed that charges the chairperson of the state Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA) to study creating new energy rate classes for certain properties with tax exempt status.

The study, based on a proposal originally introduced and championed by Rep. O’Neill to exempt churches and houses of worship from energy demand fees, will consider the impact of such new rate classes and report to the General Assembly before February, 2020.

“I’m pleased PURA will consider the financial pressures that peak demand charges are placing on houses of worship and other non-peak-use facilities, even though they use those facilities on a small number of days per year,” Rep. O’Neill said. “Many times, energy demand fees cost more than the gas being delivered and the high costs are preventing many churches from being able to provide more community outreach.”

In Connecticut, demand charges are charged only to commercial entities and are used by energy suppliers to offset the cost of providing energy during peak times when it is generally more expensive to produce and deliver. Energy rates and services in Connecticut are regulated by the state’s Public Utility Regulatory Authority (PURA). Unfortunately, there are only two categories – commercial and residential – recognized by the providers and churches are considered commercial, despite their not-for-profit status.

Demand fees cost Connecticut churches approximately $4 million annually.

During a public hearing on the issue earlier in the legislative session, Rep. O’Neill joined several members of the faith community to testify in support of the measure.

“I want to thank the local faith leaders who brought this important issue to my attention and who came to the Capitol to testify in favor of this legislation,” Rep. O’Neill said. “Without their dedicated outreach and advocacy this measure would never have made it to the House. I will continue to advocate on their behalf as the study progresses and I look forward to seeing this bill pass the legislature and get signed into law by the governor.”

The bill now awaits action in the State Senate. The legislative session ends at midnight on Wednesday, June 5.