Blumenthal's war of words with UI escalates

John O'Brien Jul. 10, 2008, 1:48pm


HARTFORD, Conn. (Legal Newsline) - Power provider United Illuminating wants its day in court, and Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal is more than ready to oblige.

The company on Wednesday requested a hearing to discuss its recently rejected rate increase proposal, rejected Monday by the state's Department of Public Utility Control. Blumenthal promised a fight if that is what UI is seeking.

UI proposed a settlement that would have allowed the utility to recover additional funds from ratepayers to make up for the utility's lost sales, increased uncollectables and capital expenditures since the utility's four-year rate plan was approved in 2006.

UI asked the DPUC to reopen an earlier rate case and reach a settlement that UI feels would sustain its business and benefit its customers.

"The AG and (the Office of Consumer Counsel) refused to participate in this settlement process. When this request for 'prosecutorial assistance' was rejected, UI then filed a notice that we would be filing a request to increase rates through the 'traditional' method -- all within the legal and statutory guidelines," said Al Carbone, of the company's communications division.

Blumenthal says UI needs to tighten its belt.

"I am disappointed United Illuminating, a mere two days after DPUC rejected its previous application, has renewed its request for a rate increase," Blumenthal said.

"In these tough economic times, UI must make do with less - just like Connecticut consumers and businesses. The company is demanding filet mignon while its customers struggle to put food on the table."

That "filet mignon" is an additional $6 per month for normal residential customers, a report in the Hartford Courant says. The raise represents a 2.6 percent increase in 2009-10.

"Already overburdened by spiking gasoline and other energy prices, consumers simply cannot afford to pay more," Blumenthal said.

"I will vigorously fight this untimely and unjustified rate increase request."

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