Blumenthal seeks gas price adjustments

Drew Smith Oct. 6, 2008, 11:57am

Richard Blumenthal (D)

HARTFORD, Conn. (Legal Newsline) -- Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, in a formal brief, called on the state Department of Public Utility Control to immediately reduce Southern Connecticut Gas Company rates by $15 million to protect consumers from unjustly overpaying for gas service.

The DPUC recently rolled back Connecticut Natural Gas rates, which Blumenthal fought for, after that company collected similar over-earnings.

The DPUC authorized Southern to enjoy a fair 10 percent rate of return, but the company's July 15 earnings report revealed the company actually earned 13.66 percent for a year -- nearly $15 million in over earnings.

State law requires that the DPUC hold a hearing on the need for an interim rate decrease any time that a public service company has for six consecutive months earned a return on equity that exceeds the DPUC's authorized levels by at least one percentage point.

Blumenthal said the DPUC should immediately reduce Southern Connecticut Gas rates - by an average of nearly $10 per month per home -- to compensate consumers for over-earnings, just as the DPUC agreed to do with CNG.

"The DPUC must undo these unjust and unreasonable over-earnings -- and slash gas rates by $15 million," Blumenthal said. "When consumers and small businesses are forced to make sacrifices in this collapsing economy, Southern should do the same.

The DPUC rightly responded to my call by reducing CNG rates, and now must do the same for Southern Connecticut Gas consumers who are also paying high rates.

"Southern outrageously and unpersuasively claims that consumers will benefit by continuing to pay these unjust rates, but acknowledges it would merely mitigate -- not stop -- its looming plans to seek yet another rate increase. Southern must reduce its rates immediately and should abandon efforts to further raise rates in these tough economic times."

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