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Survey Shows Voters Want Protection for Utility Rates

Standard Service rates for residential electricity can only change twice per year. (Mike DelGaudio/Flickr)
Standard Service rates for residential electricity can only change twice per year. (Mike DelGaudio/Flickr)
December 20, 2016

HARTFORD, Conn. – Connecticut voters are concerned about rising electrical costs and sales tactics used by third-party electricity suppliers. A survey, conducted by AARP Research, shows that almost 90 percent of state residents 45 and older want the state to continue requiring Eversource and United Illuminating to provide default standard electric plans.

John Erlingheuser, advocacy director for AARP Connecticut, said that's often the best plan for small users of electricity, including many seniors.

"Their rate is a regulated rate that is set basically as a pass-through cost to customers," she explained. "So, UI and Eversource make no profit off of the standard offer. It's actually a safe, stable and steady rate."

Two-thirds of those surveyed felt their interests are not represented when rate increases are proposed, and 86 percent want stronger consumer protections.

The survey also found that almost 80 percent had been contacted by third-party providers promising a lower rate. But according to Erlingheuser, most feel those providers should not be doing door-to-door sales pitches.

"They are still often misrepresenting that they work for one of the two main utility companies," he said. "They often misrepresent the offers that they're providing on behalf of the third-party suppliers that they're working for."

Many third-party plans offer a fixed rate but include enrollment and termination fees that can raise the cost above the main utility companies' standard plans.

Erlingeuser advises consumers who are considering switching to a third-party supplier to check their electric bills to know what rate they're currently paying, and to never agree to a contract over the phone or through a door-to-door sales pitch.

"They really need to ensure that they get a contract in writing through their company," he added. "They also should know that they have three days to cancel a contract."

More information is available through the AARP Connecticut website or at energizect.com.

Andrea Sears, Public News Service - CT