Connecticut Natural Gas (CNG) and Southern Connecticut Gas (SCG) have requested rate plans they hope will bring in millions more in revenue to help pay for replacing aging infrastructure and improving safety, and much like similar recent increase requests from other utilities, state officials say Connecticut residents can’t afford them.
On Friday, CNG and SCG – both subsidiaries of United Illuminating, which is owned by Avangrid – filed their requests with the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority.
CNG has requested a one-year rate plan, starting Nov. 1, 2024, which the company says will increase its revenue by $20 million. If approved as filed, customers will see a 5.2% increase in their bills.
Meanwhile, SCG requested a one-year rate plan that will increase revenues by $41 million, meaning an overall bill increase of 11%.
Connecticut Consumer Counsel Claire Coleman said that the applications don’t take into consideration what people can afford, adding that she and her staff will review all information in the case, including company financials, to make sure residents are paying a reasonable price for reliable service.
“When gas rates are out of sync with a utility’s actual costs and consumer needs, individual customers and businesses across the state suffer,” said Coleman in a written statement.
Attorney General William Tong said CNG’s residential users will have to pay $6-7 more a month, while SCG customers will have to pay $13 more a month.
“Connecticut families pay far too much for basic utilities. We all appreciate the need to invest in safe, reliable gas distribution, but we also need to acknowledge just how difficult it is for families right now to make ends meet,” Tong said.
SCG’s last rate case was in 2017, and officials say they have been working to replace leak-prone infrastructure and need to reset rates to be able to maintain the pace of its work.
“SCG also must address operation and maintenance cost increases in certain areas, including higher labor and benefit costs that are necessary to increase resources in the areas of Gas Operations and Customer Service, and overall to attract and retain the skilled workforce that is essential in providing high-quality service to customers,” according to the application.
CNG, whose last rate case was in 2018, made a similar argument with regard to leak-prone pipes and higher labor and benefit costs.
The filing of these applications starts a 350-day process during which PURA staff will review cost data, receive written and oral testimony, cross-examine witnesses in public hearings, and review public comments. PURA first issues a proposed final decision, followed by a final decision that is voted on by the PURA commissioners.
According to its filing, SCG has 208,000 residential, commercial, and industrial customers along the southern Connecticut coast from Westport to Old Saybrook, including the cities of Bridgeport and New Haven. The company currently provides gas distribution services in 24 Connecticut municipalities.
CNG serves approximately 186,000 residential, commercial, and industrial customers in central Connecticut, including the municipalities of Hartford, New Britain, and Greenwich. The company currently provides gas distribution services in 25 Connecticut municipalities, according to the application.