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Connecticut Officials Fighting Proposed Electric Rate Increase

The company that supplies New England states with power wants a 10 percent rate hike.

Connecticut leaders are opposing a request by ISO-New England, the company that runs New England's power grid, for a nearly 10 percent rate increase. If approved, that increase could translate into a hike in rates for Connecticut electric customers.  

Officials here are joining forces with their counterparts in Rhode Island, New Hampshire and Maine to oppose ISO-New England's rate request. In a recent letter to the Federal Energery Regulatory Commission, Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen, Consumer Counsel Elin Katz and Public Utilities Regulatory Authority Chairman Arthur House, along with officials from the the three other states, call the rate request "unjust and unreasonable."

“Connecticut’s electric rates are among the highest in the nation. FERC needs to determine why ISO-NE seeks to increase its burden on ratepayers by nearly 10 percent, when electricity demand is flat or declining,” Jepsen said in a press release about the states' opposition. “Connecticut and other New England states should have the opportunity to review the ISO-NE budget and provide input on whether the agency is acting reasonably to control costs,” he said.

In their letter to the commission, the officials also said that ISO-New England has gotten several rate increases in recent years at a time when it has boosted salaries for some of its highest paid officials and increasead its staff. 

"This growth has been permitted to continue even through periods of economic lag and recession when other regulated and unregulated companies have frozen or reduced costs and staffing levels," the officials said in their letter to the commission. "ISO-NE’s budget has grown exponentially, seemingly without regard to poor economic conditions that have required all other regulated and unregulated public utilities to control, limit or reduce costs and staffing levels."

You can read a PDF of the letter above.

ISO-New England's requested operating budget for 2013 is about $165 million, a nearly 9.3 percent increase over its current year budget of $151 million, state officials said in a press release. Its budget has increased 34 percent over the past four years and its roster of full-time employees has increased from 180 in 1997 to 563 proposed for 2013. The company employs 40 percent more employees than all of the public utility commissions in New England combined, state officials said, and the firm's employees last year received merit bonuses of about 9 percent per employee.

Last month, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy proposed a statewide energy plan to keep prices down in Connecticut. 

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