Study of Energy Demand Fees for Houses of Worship Passes Senate

Posted on June 11, 2019 by admin


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During the final hours of the legislative session last week, and following the lead of the House of Representatives, the State Senate passed legislation proposed by State Representative Arthur O’Neill (R-69) to require the state Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA) to study creating new energy rate classes for certain properties with tax exempt status.

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

“I’m glad my colleagues in the Senate also saw the need for this legislation and I’m hopeful the governor will sign it into law to begin providing much-needed financial relief for houses of worship across the state,” Rep. O’Neill said. “I’m confident this study will show that energy demand fees and high energy rates are hampering our faith communities from providing more services and 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 houses of worship are considered commercial, despite their not-for-profit status.  Demand fees cost Connecticut houses of worship approximately $4 million annually.

Rep. O’Neill has been a strong supporter and advocate on this important issue during the public hearing and debate on the legislation in the House of Representatives.

“My sincere thanks go to the local faith leaders who made me aware of these demand fees and articulated how they restrict their ability to serve the community, and to my colleagues for understanding this important issue and helping shepherd this bill through the process,” Rep. O’Neill said.

The bill now awaits action by the governor.