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Lawmakers oppose CL&P rate hike

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Consumer advocates and Connecticut officials are lining up against a request by the state’s largest utility to raise $232 million from a rate increase.

Customers of Connecticut Light and Power would pay an average $150 more a year, up about 6 percent, if the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority sides with the utility. The bulk of the increase would be higher monthly charges totaling $114 a year regardless of how much electricity is used. U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut says the increase discourages energy efficiency and would be felt by seniors and low-income customers.

“People who use the least electricity and who can least afford this rate increase will be hit the hardest," Blumenthal said. "So it is contrary to our economic interests, our environment, our sense of fairness and equity.”

CL&P says most of the money from the rate increase would pay for infrastructure improvements, following damaging storms. Mitch Gross is a spokesman for CL&P.

“Now last year, reliability was better than it’s been in over a decade due to the targeted system improvements and replacements we’ve made in our system,” said Gross.

Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy sent regulators a letter on Tuesday asking them to reject the request. He said CL&P is seeking to increase its rate of return 9.4 to 10.2 percent.

"In the current economic environment, we do not need to further burden rate payers by increasing CL&P’s rate of return beyond what residents can expect in their own investments," Malloy said in his letter.

The first of three public hearings on the rate request is set for today in New Britain. A draft decision by the state is expected Dec. 1.

Craig produces sound-rich features and breaking news coverage for WGBH News in Boston. His features have run nationally on NPR's Morning Edition, All Things Considered and Weekend Edition, as well as on PRI's The World and Marketplace. Craig has won a number of national and regional awards for his reporting, including two national Edward R. Murrow awards in 2015, the national Society of Professional Journalists Sigma Delta Chi award feature reporting in 2011, first place awards in 2012 and 2009 from the national Public Radio News Directors Inc. and second place in 2007 from the national Society of Environmental Journalists. Craig is a graduate of the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and Tufts University.