Connecticut residents will see their electric bills increase almost 50% over what they currently pay, according to new filings with the state Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA).
Citing global demand, both Eversource and United Illuminating have informed regulators that the supply portion of consumers’ bills will increase by nearly 100%, and as a result, customers’ bills will increase by about 50%.
In Connecticut, energy suppliers procure electricity twice a year, and prices are changed on January 1 and July 1. Ever since the market was deregulated in 1998, PURA’s role in this process has been to ensure that electricity is purchased competitively.
Eversource’s standard service rate – which is the passthrough rate people pay for electricity supply/generation – will double from $0.12 to $0.24 per kilowatt hour for the first six months of 2023. For the average residential customer who uses 700kwh per month, that works out to an average increase of $84.85 per month.
United Illuminating’s standard service rate for supply/generation also will double – from $0.11 cents per kilowatt hour to $0.22 cents per kilowatt hour – for the first six months of 2023. For the average customer using 700kWh per month, their monthly bill will go up by about $83.09 per month.
The utilities say the main reason for the supply-rate increase is the impact of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which has caused higher prices for oil and natural gas.
“Connecticut, like all New England states, is heavily reliant on natural gas for electricity, and, therefore, when the market price of natural gas increases, supply rates also increase,” the Office of Consumer Counsel said.
Attorney General William Tong said the increases are unacceptable.
“This is a massive increase that will be unaffordable for many Connecticut families and businesses. We pay far too much for our energy in Connecticut as it is, and these winter rates are nothing short of punishing,” Tong said.
He said the rates are unaffordable.
“Our supply rates always fluctuate between winter and summer, but this is not normal,” Tong said. “We are seeing a huge global spike in gas costs due to the war in Ukraine and Russian manipulation of gas supplies. Both as a country and a state, we need to take a hard look at our energy sources and reduce our reliance on sources like natural gas that produce these wild, unaffordable surges in rates.”
Gov. Ned Lamont called it “unwelcomed news.”
“In the coming days, I will be calling the General Assembly into special session to adopt legislation focused on providing relief for Connecticut residents, including by ensuring our energy assistance program is adequately funded to at least last year’s level so support is available for electricity and heating oil costs,” Lamont said.
House Minority Leader Vincent Candelora said this should be a wake-up call.
“These rate hikes should cause the legislature as well as the Governor’s administration to conduct a comprehensive review of past policy decisions and forward-looking goals to determine whether state government is managing energy-related issues in a manner that balances concerns and concepts from environmentalists with the palpable stress of ratepayers who find themselves digging deeper and deeper to pay their bills,” he said.
Sen. Norm Needleman, D-Essex, who co-chairs the Energy and Technology Committee, said the increases show just how broken the markets are.
“In the 23 years since our state deregulated its energy markets, we are at a point where control of our energy costs is out of our hands and we are now responding to decisions made by Wall Street energy traders and global energy providers,” Needleman said. “The energy market is complicated, made worse by global turmoil, but these increases could not have come at a worse time given the financial challenges so many are facing right now. “
He said at a time when these utilities are experiencing record profits they should consider absorbing some of these costs.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This story has been updated to clarify the difference between a supply rate increase of 100% and a customer-bill increase of 50%.