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Hearings to Be Held on Proposed Electric Rate Increase

As electric rates rise, seniors may try reducing heat and air conditioning to save money. (Steven Vance/flickr.com)
As electric rates rise, seniors may try reducing heat and air conditioning to save money. (Steven Vance/flickr.com)
September 8, 2016

HARTFORD, Conn. – Electric ratepayers could see big increases in their bills starting next year, but there's still time to make their opinions heard at public hearings.

United Illuminating has proposed raising electric distribution changes by more than 30 percent over three years.

John Erlingheuser, advocacy director for AARP in Connecticut, says that could be especially hard on seniors in the state who may resort to turning air conditioning off in the summer or lowering their thermostats in the winter to save money.

"Seniors tend to sometimes try to control their usage in a way to keep rates down but then potentially could put their health and well being at risk," he points out.

The state Public Utilities Regulatory Authority is holding public hearings on the rate increase request at 6:30 p.m. today at Bridgeport's City Hall, and on Monday at 200 Orange St. in New Haven.

United Illuminating merged with a Spanish company, and to get approval of the deal, agreed to freeze rates through the end of this year and give customers almost $10 million in bill credits.

But then, Erlingheuser says, United Illuminating immediately asked for a $100 million rate increase.

"We're asking regulators to examine it, take public input and expert input and either disapprove of or mitigate this rate increase as much as possible," he stresses.

The utility says it needs the rate increase to help pay for replacing aging infrastructure and trimming trees that interfere with power lines.

But Erlingheuser says United Illuminating's rates already are among the 10 highest in the country, and the public hearings give the ratepayers a chance to say what the higher costs mean to them.

"And they can tell regulators that they think this is an unjust and unreasonable rate increase and regulators have to take that into account when they make their decision," he states.

Information on the hearings and on submitting written comments is on the AARP website at AARP.org/CT.


Andrea Sears, Public News Service - CT