United Illuminating truck Credit: Thomas Breen photo

United Illuminating has submitted an application to the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA) seeking approval to amend its rate schedules that would result in a nearly 5% increase to the average total annual bill. 

PURA will schedule public hearings on the matter and the process will take an estimated 350 days. 

At a scheduling conference next Monday representatives of The United Illuminating Company will make their case. Members of the public can register to listen or participate in the meeting.

Through its application, filed on Friday, UI requests approval of a three-year plan, starting Sept. 1, 2023, requesting an increase in revenues necessary “to address a distribution operating deficiency” of $102.1 million for the rate year beginning Sept. 1, 2023 (rate year 1), an incremental $17.2 million in rate year 2, and an incremental $17.2 million in rate year 3. 

In an effort to spread the total rate increase over the three years, UI’s application states that the actual change in revenue in year one will be an estimated $54.2 million. This will produce an average total bill increase of about 4.9% per year for all rate classes. 

Some, including State Rep. Kerry Wood, have opposed any increase, adding that UI should find ways to save customers money, not the other way around. 

“I really believe that UI and Eversource are basically favoring their investors over their customers,” Wood said.  

Wood said she hopes the legislature will revisit HB 5203, which supporters, one of whom was Attorney General William Tong, said would have helped reduce unaffordable utility rates, during the next legislative session.

“We need to get that passed. We need to give PURA more authority to push back on the rates of return for these companies. We need to change the cost sharing so that ratepayers recoup when over earnings are made,” Wood said.  She said tree cutting and advertising should be looked at as a cost of doing business, rather than an expense that can be put back on ratepayers.

UI countered that its last distribution rate case was in 2016, and that its customer rates have not increased since January 1, 2019. 

UI officials say that their plan provides for clean energy innovation and grid modernization like electric vehicles and energy story programs, and the UCONN and AVANGRID Clean Earth Initiative.  

Frank Reynolds, president & CEO of UI, said in the release that the company wants to meet customers’ needs as well as address environmental concerns. 

“When taking a practical and evidence-based approach to solving the environmental and energy crises of our time, it’s critical we have a team that understands the nuances of the energy industry and how that fits in with decarbonization and a push for greener energy. Partnerships like these will improve how we do business and help Connecticut meet its clean energy goals,” Reynolds said. 

If its application is approved, the average residential UI customer would see a bill increase of $10.37, utility representatives said. That’s instead of it being an 8%, or a $16.63 increase in the first year. The utility says it wants to spread out the increase over three years to help make it more manageable.