Connecticut regulators propose restrictions on third-party electricity providers
By Emilie Munson December 3, 2019
NEW BRITAIN — Connecticut utility regulators have issued a tentative ruling that would protect hardship electric utility customers from having to deal with third-party electric suppliers.
Tuesday ruling by the state’s Public Utilities Regulatory Authority comes after a lengthy review process that began last year and ruling essentially moves all hardship customers into the standard service rate category.
Hardship customers generally include those with a documented financial hardship, a certified medical protection, or those who receive public assistance.
A final decision in the case is expected to be released Dec. 18.
State Attoney General William Tong said PURA’s ruling, if approved in its current form, shields some of the state’s most vulnerable utility customer from overcharges. Connecticut’s Office of Consumer Counsel, which represents the interest of utility ratepayers, found that over a two-year period, hardship customers paid $7.2 million more to purchase electricity from third-party suppliers than they would have if they had stayed with the utility standard service rate.
“Hardship customers have been systematically targeted and overcharged by third-party suppliers for years, and that needs to stop,” Tong said in a statement issued Tuesday regarding PURA’s tentative ruling. “Shifting hardship customers to the standard service rate puts more money back in families’ pockets where it belongs.”
Officials with Tong’s office told PURA commissioners the poorest and most vulnerable customers have been disproportionately affected by third-party suppliers. That has diverted funds from ratepayer-funded energy assistance and matching payment programs.
Uncollectable debt resulting from inflated rates is also ultimately paid for by other ratepayers, according to the attorney general’s office.