Blumenthal reiterates need for reform

John O'Brien May 4, 2007, 11:00am


HARTFORD, Conn. - With Connecticut's Department of Public Utility Control ready to pursue electricity capacity contracts, Attorney General Richard Blumenthal on Thursday again stressed his desire for delay.

Blumenthal feels the DPUC should wait until June, when the General Assembly has had a chance to pass legislation designed at reforming the energy industry.

Thursday, he said immediate legislative action is needed to protect taxpayers from paying $300 million in power plant contracts.

"Our state must regain power over its power," Blumenthal said. "Consumers must demand immediate legislative action to avoid pouring investment money into power company pockets -- lucrative private contracts to build new plants with no assurances of fair rates.

"I am disappointed -- but not surprised -- that the DPUC will continue to pursue these ill-advised contracts."

Blumenthal has been accused of entering into the same sort of contract. The Competitive Enterprise Institute, which ranked Blumenthal as the worst state attorney general in recent history, says he steered $65 million in attorneys fees under the $246-billion Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement in 1998.

The CEI adds that Blumenthal went "through the motions" of soliciting letters from firms interested in representing the state in the lawsuit. Of the four he selected, one was his former firm, another's partner was married to a partner in the first firm and a managing partner in the third served as counsel to Gov. John Rowland.

Blumenthal says the DPUC's contracts will not ensure that new power plants will provide power at a reasonable cost, and he says the solution is the creation of another agency.

"Our message to the legislature: Create a Connecticut Electric Authority -- power produced by the people and for the people," Blumenthal said.

Blumenthal said ratepayers will absorb all the risk and power companies will take all the benefits when the contracts are finalized, which is expected to occur over the summer.

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