I-TEAM: Who is regulating electric price hikes in CT?

Sam Smink talks about increased electric prices along with Marissa Gillett, Chairman of PURA.
Published: Nov. 18, 2022 at 4:40 PM EST|Updated: Nov. 18, 2022 at 7:23 PM EST
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Rocky Hill, CT (WFSB) - With electric rates at Eversource and United Illuminating going up, many of you have questioned why this is allowed to happen.

The I-Team looked into it.

Connecticut has something called the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority, known as PURA for short.

PURA regulates companies like Eversource and UI.

But we learned, they don’t have any authority over these new price hikes.

That’s because the hikes concern the supply side of your bill.

Eversource and United Illuminating filed their new supply rates, and they are proposing customers pay almost 48% more in their bills.

Marissa Gillett is the chairman of PURA. She says the rates are filed with their agency as a formality.

She says any control PURA had over the supply side of your electric bill, went away nearly 25 years ago.

“PURA’s jurisdiction over this component of the bill was literally stripped by the legislature in 1998,” says Gillett.

Why did this happen? Once upon a time, the utility companies generated their own power.

Now the companies get their electricity from power suppliers across the region.

It’s a bidding process.

“There was a decision made by the forces in power that the competitive market was going to generate a better rate than what folks would have seen if the utilities owned the generation,” says Gillett.

Since the companies don’t own the power themselves, PURA can’t regulate them.

So, what does PURA do?

Well, they have control over the delivery side of your bill.

“We’re making sure there’s no profit, no markup,” says Gillett. “Number two we’re making sure that they have followed their own procurement processes, make sure that it was as competitive as a procurement as possible.

That’s why, back on September 1st, the state announced the average household would be saving money on their bills through April 2023. See the story here.

Eversource customers saw an average savings of almost 10 dollars starting then, and UI customers saw a little more than 7 dollar in savings.

At that time, PURA had found extra money that could be returned back to the customer.

But it was only on the delivery and distribution side.

“We have strong jurisdiction over the distribution components,” says Gillett.

She does think the Legislature should approve more power, however.

The supply price hikes will go into effect on January 1st.