UI's Rate Hike Request is Exorbitant

September 20, 2016

It’s "exorbitant."  That’s what I think of United Illuminating’s rate hike request. And I’m urging the Public Utility Regulatory Authority (PURA) to only approve a rate hike based on "need, not greed."

UI is seeking to boost rates beginning January 1, 2017 and again in 2018 and 2019. If the utility’s request is granted in full, customers would pay an average of $30.00 more per month by the end of 2019.

At a September 12th public hearing in New Haven I told PURA commissioners that “we’ve seen this movie before.” Two years ago Northeast Utilities, now Eversource, sought a hefty rate increase after its merger with NStar was approved. Now UI, after having its merger approved with Iberdrola of Spain, is doing the same.

In both instances consumers were told that the bigger utilities would be smarter, more diversified and more capable of managing the delivery of electricity. Instead, we have UI asking for a 30% rate hike over three years. The company already charges the highest electricity price in Connecticut.

I have no problem with UI recovering legitimate costs for modernizing its infrastructure against destructive storms. But those are essential investments and, in my view, some of the costs must be borne by UI’s newly merged utility colossus. It’s a cost of doing business. And keep in mind that the company is allowed a very generous Return on Equity for its shareholders that’s approaching 10%.

Make your voice heard. Public hearings are continuing over the next several weeks at the Public Utility Regulatory Authority offices in New Britain. You can find details on PURA’s website. Look for “16-06-04 UI Rate Case Hearing” on the PURA Calendar.