The state of Connecticut settled a $1.8 million lawsuit with Eversource Tuesday over the alleged false and deceptive high-pressure tactics the utility used to entice consumers to convert to natural gas.
“Eversource misled homeowners to get them to switch to natural gas,” Attorney General William Tong said. “These high-pressure tactics are unacceptable coming from any business, much less a regulated utility. Eversource has already paid a $1.8 million civil penalty imposed by the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA), and now they will pay an additional $1.8 million to settle these serious consumer protection allegations.”
Tong opened his investigation after regulators already reached the same conclusion and imposed a $1.8 million penalty in 2021.
“We’re pleased to resolve this matter in a cooperative and constructive way by providing help to utility customers through Operation Fuel and the Attorney General’s consumer education fund,” said Mitch Gross, a spokesman for Eversource. “We continue to focus on providing assistance to all of our customers who need it.”
The case arose after Hartford Courant columnist Kevin Rennie posted notices from Eversource claiming homeowners would be unable to connect to natural gas once their road had been resurfaced due to a “paving moratorium.”
The notice claimed: “Once your road has been resurfaced, it will be several years before the pavement can be opened again due to the town’s paving moratorium. We will not be able to provide a gas service line to your home during the moratorium. If your current heating equipment fails, or if you decide to install natural gas for any other reason after this deadline, you will not be able to connect to natural gas.”
No paving moratorium ever existed.
Tong said the settlement addresses alleged violations of the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act regarding unfair and deceptive marketing practices not previously covered by PURA’s penalty.
Through Tuesday’s $1.8 million settlement, Eversource must pay $1.6 million to Operation Fuel to assist low-income ratepayers and $200,000 to the Attorney General for consumer education and enforcement purposes. Between PURA’s prior penalty and today’s additional $1.8 million settlement, Eversource must now pay a total of $3.6 million regarding these solicitations.