Natural gas pipeline. Credit: PHOTOCREO Michal Bednarek via Shutterstock

It looks like another battle is brewing over an upcoming request by Southern Connecticut Gas (SGC) and Connecticut Natural Gas (CNG) to increase rates on the state’s hundreds of thousands of customers. 

SGC and CNG – both of whom are subsidiaries of Avangrid – filed notices of intent on Friday to request the increases, with SGC looking for a $42 million increase and CNG seeking a $21 million increase. 

Attorney General William Tong said, if the applications are approved, customers for SCG will see a total bill increase of 9% while CNG customers will face a 5% increase. 

Once the application is filed, which is expected by Nov. 1, the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority will review the case and render a decision after seeking input from state officials, organizations and individual members of the public. 

In a prepared statement, Craig Gilvarg, spokesperson for SCG and CNG, said the rate increases will help the companies put funding toward their infrastructure, help increase their union workforce and expand the number of their customer call centers.

“These rate increases will go directly towards investments in our natural gas infrastructure that are essential to our commitment to ensure safe and reliable service, today and into the future,” according to the statement. 

Tong, along with the Office of Consumer Counsel, have been vocal in their criticism of utility companies applying for rate increases. United Illuminating recently filed an appeal of PURA’s  August decision when its commissioners unanimously rejected United Illuminating’s proposed distribution rate increase of $131 million over three years. 

Tong’s concerns in the gas company’s rate case sounds similar to that in the UI case, that the state’s families are already strapped.

“Connecticut families pay far too much already for basic, necessary utilities and these increases are just one more added expense,” Tong said. “I will be thoroughly scrutinizing these applications and actively engaged at every single step of this process to ensure that Connecticut ratepayers don’t pay a penny more than they need to,”

SCG serves around 208,024 customers in 24 Connecticut communities in the southern part of the state. They last sought an increase in 2017. CNG serves around 184,000 customers in central Connecticut and Greenwich. They last sought a rate increase in 2018.

Residents can access Energize Connecticut, an initiative that helps state residents with their energy choices. 

Among the services that can be accessed is the Home Energy Solutions – Income Eligible program, where qualifying residents can get a no-cost energy assessment and improvements to help save on energy bills. 

The state’s electric and gas utilities are some of the sponsors of Energize Connecticut along with the state, the Energy Efficiency Fund and the Connecticut Green Bank.