Blumenthal, CNG at it again

Blumenthal

HARTFORD, Conn. (Legal Newsline) - A utility company is earning more than it is allowed to in Connecticut, Attorney General Richard Blumenthal said Tuesday.

Blumenthal is asking the Department of Public Utility Control to accept his petition for an interim rate decrease for customers of Connecticut Natural Gas, which made at least $14 million more than it was authorized to, he said, in the year period ending April 30.

"I demand immediate reduction in CNG rates to relieve consumers of unconscionable and unauthorized profits -- and investigation of this over-earnings debacle," Blumenthal said. "In tough economic times, CNG's excess profits are unacceptable."

CNG was only allowed to earn a profit of 10.1 percent, yet numbers show a 14.3 percent profit.

Blumenthal said the law is on his side, calling for a rate review when a utility company has earned a rate of return that exceeded what it was authorized to make by at least one percentage point for six consecutive months. CNG had asked for a rate increase last year.

"These over-earnings unfortunately vindicate our fight against CNG's 2007 rate increase, proving that their $14 million increase was based on nothing more than smoke and mirrors," Blumenthal said.

In May, Blumenthal asked state regulators to block CNG from collecting $1.4 million from 3,400 customers he said it illegally billed in January.

The utility in November and December 2007 mistakenly under-billed about 3,400 customers, and CNG sought to make up for the mistake in January, sending those same consumers bills that included that month's usage plus the under-billed amounts from the previous two months.

Because of the combined bills, consumers faced January bill that were much higher than usual, the attorney general's office said.

From Legal Newsline: Reach John O'Brien by e-mail at john@legalnewsline.com.

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