By Rep. David Baram
Citing the need for infrastructure improvements, Connecticut Light & Power Co. has asked for a 59 percent increase in its fixed monthly service fee and another increase in its rate of return on investment.
Clearly, these increases would create a significant economic hardship on low-income residents already struggling to pay for basic necessities like food and utilities. They would also essentially penalize residents and businesses that try to use less electricity or promote energy efficiency.
The state Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA), which is charged with the responsibility of oversight, should reject CL&P’s request and even consider rolling back the favorable rates that the utility already enjoys.
We recognize that CL&P faces business challenges and changes in its revenue stream resulting from efficiency, the use of renewables, a growing emphasis on distributed generation and other efforts to meet our energy needs in ways that reduce costs and the impact on the environment.
But the simple fact is that CL&P has to find a common sense approach to its business needs without penalizing rate payers. They should not have to pay a higher share of the utility’s costs.
Considering that our state’s energy model is predicated upon the principles of reducing energy costs for our citizens and more efficient energy usage, an increase in CL&P’s fixed fee would undermine Connecticut’s effort to achieve long-term energy conservation and reduced costs.
As Governor Malloy has stated, a rate increase cuts to the heart of our state’s nationally recognized Comprehensive Energy Strategy (CES). It would limit the ability of residents and businesses across our state to reduce their electric bill through energy efficiency or the use of solar, fuel cells and other renewable energy sources.
If Connecticut accepts the argument that raising consumer costs is justified by the proliferation of fuel cells, solar, wind and other renewables, it will discourage future investment in these beneficial technologies and further limit our progress toward ensuring greater access to low-cost, environmentally beneficial energy sources.
Connecticut already ranks among the top five states in the country in the cost of electricity and to expect residents and small businesses to pay even higher rates is beyond comprehension.
Rep. David Baram represents the 15th Assembly District, which includes Bloomfield and Windsor.