Published On: 01/04/2023

Consumer Alert: Eversource and United Illuminating are increasing supply rates

Connecticut’s 1.5 million electricity consumers can expect a sharp increase in their utility bills as of January 2023. A typical Connecticut household uses 700 kilowatt-hours of electricity per month. With the change in electricity rates, each Eversource and UI customer’s monthly electricity bill will increase by $84.85 and $79.24, respectively.

Eversource and UI are electric utilities serving millions of customers in Connecticut. The companies notified the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA) of their plan to change electricity rates in November 2022. These rates will be applicable from 1st January 2023. 

The companies’ approved new rates are as follows:

eversource and United Illuminating Standard Service Residential Rate

Currently, 90% of Eversource customers and 83% of UI customers are on a standard rate. For these customers, electricity rates will increase by 100.59% and 106.59%, respectively, compared to rates from July 1 to December 31, 2022. The revised tariff will increase the electricity bills by 110% and 105.56% for consumers. This is in comparison to last winter’s standard tariffs.

Primary Reason Behind Increased Electricity Supply Rates

The price of natural gas directly impacts electricity rates. Natural gas is used to generate most of Connecticut’s electricity. Rates for natural gas supply increase when the market price increases.

Oil and natural gas prices are under tremendous pressure due to the unstable energy markets created by Russia’s war in Ukraine. Although the United States imports only a small amount of energy from Eastern Europe, the disruptions are affecting prices worldwide. This is particularly happening because of New England’s high dependence on natural gas and liquefied natural gas (LNG). This leads to increasing demand for LNG in Europe, which determines the market price.

Connecticut has implemented preventive procurement policies. It has also taken measures to protect against natural gas price volatility. Yet, these factors have affected purchases this summer and fall.

Oil and natural gas prices are under tremendous pressure due to the unstable energy markets created by Russia's war in Ukraine

Price Control by Authorities

Utility customers and other regulators across Connecticut are struggling to answer one question. “How to lower the high prices driven by soaring global energy prices?”

Two decades ago, Connecticut decided to deregulate its energy market. As a result, PURA today has no authority to modify or deny utility requests for standard rates.

In fact, PURA’s only role is to ensure that UI and Eversource make competitive power purchases. It will ensure that neither company passes on prices other than the actual cost of their electricity supply. Therefore, PURA’s ability to reduce requested rates is limited.

Electricity Bills Reduction Options

Eversource and UI’s support:

Eversource and UI have given options to customers who are not able to afford their electricity bills. Such customers can talk to their electricity providers to learn about payment plans. This includes other energy efficiency programs.

Customers on Eversource’s standard rates are eligible for the company’s assistance program. These customers must earn less than $76,465 for a four-person household or less than 60% of the state’s median income.

UI customers can reach the company’s assistance programs at 800-722-5584. For the weatherization program, they can reach at 877-947-3873. Eversource customers can call 800-286-2828.

Alternatives

Some government officials have suggested that Connecticut electricity consumers can explore third-party prices. They can decide if those prices are more attractive than prices by Eversource and UI. Yet, PURA has cautioned against these as they tend to be more expensive.

Considering all these factors, Attorney General William Tong gave a statement. He said, “Many users in Connecticut will not be able to afford this increase. In Connecticut, we already pay too much for energy, so these winter rates are terrible. We need to take a hard look at our energy sources as a nation and as a state. We must reduce our reliance on energy sources like natural gas. These sources are causing irrational, unsustainable price spikes.”

Sustainable Solution: Solar Energy

Solar Energy

Clean energy Industries are in high demand due to increasing fossil fuel prices. Decreasing prices of solar panels is also a factor. Solar energy is a cost-effective alternative to natural gas for electricity consumption.

There are several factors that influence the high demand for the solar industry in Connecticut. These include:

  • Fewer utility bills 

Installing solar panels significantly reduces the total electricity bill amount. Switching to clean energy projects like solar panels for all or some of the electricity can have a huge impact on overall electricity savings.

  • Federal Solar Investment Tax Credits (ITC) 

This is a huge tax incentive for solar system owners in Connecticut. This allows customers to write off 30% of the total cost incurred in installing solar photovoltaic (PV) systems. 

  • Other solar taxes

There are several other tax incentives available for consumers. These include property tax exemption, sales tax exemption, and many more. Other loans and tax credits are also available.

Various electricity users in Connecticut are now planning to switch to solar energy. This is a huge opportunity for the clean energy industry to increase its customer base.

Solar installation companies have an opportunity to revolutionize the management of distributed energy resources. ENACT’s SAAS platform makes solar projects workable, enhance productivity, and scale sales.

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