Bryan Cohen Aug. 8, 2013, 6:40pm

HARTFORD, Conn. (Legal Newsline) -- Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen on Wednesday praised a preliminary decision by a federal administrative law judge to reduce electric transmission rates for New England consumers.

The preliminary decision, if approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, could result in significant savings for utility customers in the region.

Jepsen joined Gov. Dannel Malloy, Consumer Counsel Elin Katz and Public Utilities Regulatory Authority Vice Chairman John Betkoski in applauding the ruling.

The government officials urged the FERC to approve the recommendation to reduce the transmission rate.

"(Tuesday's ruling was) a step in the right direction for consumers," Jepsen said in a statement. "If FERC concurs with the judge's findings, Connecticut customers alone could save $30 million to $40 million annually in transmission charges."

Transmission charges show up as a line item on electric bills and represent the cost of delivering high-voltage electricity from generation plants to the local distribution network of the utility.

In September 2011, a group of states challenged an 11.14 percent return on equity that transmission owners are allowed to charge customers for their facilities.

Connecticut and the other New England states argued that a more reasonable earnings rate would be 9.2 percent, which is closer to what local utility companies are allowed to collect from customers to maintain distribution systems.

Administrative Law Judge Michael Cianci Jr., in his ruling this week, decided that a rate of 9.7 percent would be just and reasonable.

The states requested that FERC extend the deadline for briefs to be filed in the case to Oct. 24. After all the briefs are filed, the FERC has no deadline for issuing a decision.

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