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Ahead of Friday's decision, lawmakers back PURA against United Illuminating rate hike

Utility trucks positioned along Main St. in Hamden while crews repair overhead electrical wires after trees fell on the wires.
United Illuminating
Utility trucks positioned along Main St. in Hamden while crews repair overhead electrical wires after trees fell on the wires.

Connecticut regulators are expected to reject a rate hike proposal from United Illuminating on Friday.

State Attorney General William Tong has joined Democratic and Republican state lawmakers in support of the state Public Utilities Regulatory Authority.

He said the regulator’s draft decision to reject an 8% rate hike request from UI reflects strong state oversight of the electric utility.

“If you are worried about the penalties, make good on your commitments,” Tong said. “And if you feel you have a good case, go to court and appeal. And come back next year and file another rate case if you have a good story to tell.”

PURA’s draft decision approved a distribution rate increase that was a fraction of UI’s initial request of $131 million over three years.

UI said they need the full $131 million in that time frame, and that without it, they will not have enough money to provide reliable power and support their employees.

State Senator Ryan Fazio, a ranking member of the Energy and Technology Committee, said the service from UI is already below par.

“We know that in this state the level of service has not been up to snuff,” Fazio said. “Independent review and ratings of the level of customer service for utilities in Connecticut consistently ranks below the average in the country. I believe that strong regulatory oversight is necessary to rectify that.”

Last Thursday, more than 150 UI employees rallied outside of the PURA headquarters in New Britain to oppose the draft.

“If the draft decision is finalized in its current form, the harms to UI employees, customers, the company and Connecticut’s clean energy goals will be significant,” Frank Reynolds, president & CEO at UI, said.

“Our 342,000 customers and our 1,800 Avangrid employees deserve better than this draft decision offers," he added, "and we urge PURA to take into consideration the concerns expressed in our 'written exceptions' before issuing a final decision in the UI rate case.”

A final decision by PURA is due on Friday.

Molly is a reporter covering Connecticut. She also produces Long Story Short, a podcast exploring public policy issues across Connecticut.
As WSHU Public Radio’s award-winning senior political reporter, Ebong Udoma draws on his extensive tenure to delve deep into state politics during a major election year.