Conn. AG vows to fight rate increases

Nick Rees Jan. 21, 2009, 4:22pm

Richard Blumenthal (D)

HARTFORD, Conn. (Legal Newsline) -- Connecticut's attorney general has vowed to fight rate hikes from gas companies that were recently ordered to return millions of dollars in over-earnings.

Both Connecticut Natural Gas and Southern Connecticut Gas Company are seeking to increase their rates. Southern Connecticut Gas Company is attempting to raise their rates 15.2 percent, or an average of more than $19 per month, for heating customers. Connecticut Natural Gas's rate increase of 4.4 percent over existing rates would mean an additional $5 per month for the average heating customer each month.

The request for rate increases come after the Department of Public Utility Control ordered Southern Connecticut Gas and Connecticut Natural Gas to return $15.5 million each in over-earnings collected over six months in violation of state regulations.

"This rate request is an insult to consumers -- both in scope and timing -- as consumers fight to keep their homes and jobs, and mere months after Southern and CNG were ordered to slash their rates after months of over-earnings," Attorney General Richard Blumenthal said. "My office will fight for fairness -- which is no unwarranted and unjust rate increases in the midst of this economic meltdown."

In a move applauded by Blumenthal, the United Illuminating Co., which was seeking a 4.1 percent increase, was recently issued a draft decision that effectively denies their request for a rate increase.

"This draft decision is a major triumph for ratepayers and a resounding rebuke to UI. The outpouring of outrage and opposition turned the tide, showing that citizens can make a difference," Blumenthal said. "We're determined to continue the fight to assure this decision stands and that the company respects it. There was absolutely no justification -- none -- for rate increases to provide executives with higher compensation and the company with higher profit levels when Connecticut families are struggling to make ends meet.

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