Legislators don't agree with AG Blumenthal on power solution

John O'Brien Jun. 6, 2007, 2:00pm


HARTFORD, Conn. - Connecticut's House of Representatives on Tuesday refused to approve Attorney General Richard Blumenthal's proposal that would have taxed state power plants and provided a refund to ratepayers.

Blumenthal said his windfall profits refund proposal would have returned as much as $400 million per year to ratepayers, but the House rejected it 95-49.

"Only a windfall profits refund would provide Connecticut businesses and consumers with rapid and real relief from the highest power prices in the continental United States," Blumenthal said. "My proposal for a windfall profits refund would counteract unreasonable and unworkable federal rules that distort our power market to enrich a few generators. I am challenging these rules in court."

Blumenthal's plan called for companies to pay a quarterly tax of 50 percent on windfall profits (net revenue earned that exceeds 20 percent of the company's equity in its plant) on their nuclear- or coal-powered energy pants and would have lasted until 2009.

"The legislature approved a bill that provides for planning, conservation and new plant construction but fails to reduce prices," Blumenthal said. "I urge the legislature to use its expected special session to build on this foundation, passing a windfall profits refund, as well as my proposal for a Connecticut Electric Authority to buy power and finance perhaps own selected plants."

According to a report in the Hartford Courant, Rep. Kevin Delgobbo, R-Naugatuck, felt the bill did not assure relief for ratepayers.

"We've rolled the dice time and time again and we lost," Delgobbo said. "This siren song of an amendment is the type of thing that is going to make us crash with disastrous results for ratepayers."

Blumenthal has been very busy dealing with Connecticut's energy crisis. He is currently investigating a power company that he says promised lower rates to certain municipalities but never delivered.

He also repeatedly pleaded with the Department of Public Utility Control, asking it to wait until after the state's legislative session concluded before it awarded any power contracts.

In January, he sued the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, hoping to end a surcharge that was imposed to encourage construction of new power plants.

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