AARP Connecticut provided members of Connecticut’s Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA) with comments about the proposed settlement to Eversource Energy’s request to implement a significant rate increase that would raise the cost of energy for Connecticut ratepayers (Docket No. 17-10-46).
The letter from AARP Connecticut Director of Advocacy and Outreach John Erlingheuser follows:
Please accept these comments from AARP Connecticut concerning the proposed settlement for Docket 17-10-46.
Families in Connecticut count on utilities being affordable and reliable to cool, heat and light our homes and businesses. When people on fixed incomes struggle to make ends meet, they face difficult choices in paying for basics like food and medicine, and their electric bill.
On behalf of the more than 600,000 members of AARP in Connecticut age 50 and older, I applaud certain aspects of the Eversource Rate Case settlement, especially the reduction from prior-proposed unreasonably high rate hikes. But I also write to put on record that, in some respects, the settlement falls short of fully delivering needed savings to Connecticut consumers.
AARP is pleased that the Office of Consumer Council and Eversource came to an agreement that includes a 60-percent revenue request reduction in the first year of the three-year rate increase, effectively saving ratepayers $182.4 million. These are savings which AARP members need and will appreciate.
But from a ratepayer perspective, the settlement still doesn’t take fully into account all the savings that the utility will receive under federal tax law changes that went into effect in January. Eversource has even acknowledged that it would expect to pass more tax savings along to customers. Accordingly, AARP strongly urges that the full amount of available tax savings be passed along in this proposed settlement, further reducing the rate increase request.
Furthermore, AARP opposes multiyear rate increases like this settlement. We have opposed ones like it in other states, including Colorado and Minnesota. There is no compelling reason to allow three years of rate increases in a single rate case. Consumers are best served under rate cases that more strictly rely on measurable data.
AARP applauds the continued implementation of the law AARP worked to pass that more clearly defines what expenses Connecticut’s electric utilities can include in the fixed customer charge. This will result in a reduction in the fixed charge from $19.25 a month to $11.88 a month. This is a victory for consumers who are seeking to enjoy greater control over their energy bills.
In summary, the settlement is a mixed bag for ratepayers and AARP respectfully urges that multiyear rate plans not become a fixture of Connecticut regulatory policy. AARP requests that the settlement be modified to reflect at the early juncture the full impact of recent federal tax reductions.
Director of Advocacy and Outreach