TONG PRAISES PURA DRAFT DECISION PROTECTING VULNERABLE CUSTOMERS FROM PREDATORY ELECTRIC SUPPLIERS
(Hartford, CT) – Attorney General William Tong praised a draft decision by the Connecticut Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA) that would shield hardship customers from third-party electric suppliers. Third-party suppliers have overcharged Connecticut's most vulnerable consumers by more than $7.2 million over a two year period when compared to the utility standard service rates offered by Eversource Energy and the United Illuminating Company. Hardship customers generally include those with a documented financial hardship, a certified medical protection, or those who receive public assistance.
"Hardship customers have been systematically targeted and overcharged by third-party suppliers for years, and that needs to stop. These vulnerable consumers have wasted an average of $143 per year on bad energy deals. Shifting hardship customers to the standard service rate puts more money back in families' pockets where it belongs," said Attorney General William Tong.
PURA opened a docket last year to review the feasibility, costs and benefits of transferring all hardship customers to the standard service rate. The Office of the Attorney General argued in two briefs that such a plan would be both feasible and cost effective, noting that the poorest and most vulnerable customers have been disproportionately affected by third-party suppliers. Not only has this harmed hardship customers personally, but it has diverted funds from ratepayer funded energy assistance and matching payment programs. Uncollectable debt resulting from inflated rates is also ultimately paid for by other ratepayers.
According to evidence presented by the Office of Consumer Counsel, hardship customers paid $7.2 million more to purchase electricity from third-party suppliers than they would have if they had stayed with the utility standard service rate. This resulted in an average annual loss of $143 per hardship household.
PURA is set to render a final decision in this proceeding on December 18, 2019. The draft decision orders that all hardship customers be returned to utility standard service by March 1, 2020. Similarly, the draft decision orders that all hardship customers be prevented from enrolling with a third-party supplier after March 1, 2020.