The Public Utilities Regulatory Authority today established a two-tiered discount rate to help provide relief for low-income Connecticut residents who have trouble affording electricity. PURA Vice Chairman Jack Betkoski said the decision was a momentous one that will help ease the pain for Connecticut families who are currently facing a variety of rising costs.
“I think this is a step toward assisting those individuals that are having difficulty quite frankly putting food on the table,” Betkoski said.
The final decision unanimously adopted by the three-member commission requires Eversource and United Illuminating to each implement a discount rate with an overall eligibility cap at 60% of the state median income (Tier 1), and eligibility for Tier 2 aligned with existing state benefit programs (up to 160% federal poverty guidelines).
PURA has determined that those who qualify for Tier 1 will receive a 10% discount applied to their monthly bill, while those who fall into Tier 2 will receive a 50% discount to their total monthly bill, according to the decision.
Those who qualify will be able to participate in existing energy assistance, arrearage forgiveness, renewable energy, and energy efficiency programs, the decision states.
The companies will start accepting applications by August 2023 and will be required to create a communications plan to notify and educate eligible residential customers. PURA will re-evaluate the discounted rates every two years as part of its annual energy affordability review process. The first review of the discounted rates will be conducted in 2025.
PURA Chairwoman Marissa P. Gillett thanked a variety of organizations – such as The Center for Children’s Advocacy, the Office of the Consumer Counsel, and Operation Fuel, as well as the staff at PURA – for their work in putting together the rate proposal.
Gillett said the decision is a reflection of PURA digging into the topic of affordability and its recognition of the societal impacts of losing electricity.
It’s also a move to reduce uncollectibles – collecting outstanding amounts from delinquent accounts.
“The goal of minimizing uncollectibles is one that helps us all,” she said.
Gillett said there is more work to be done, including the potential to create another tier. She said this was a massive undertaking that involved many organizations.
“I will wholeheartedly support it and look forward to its implementation,” she said.