January 12, 2014
AG, OCC, Legislators Welcome PURA Draft Decision on Electric Bill
 Disclosures, Ban on Daily and Weekly Variable Rates
Draft decision implements new rate disclosures on electric bills included in 2014
 legislation, prohibits variable generation rates that change daily or weekly

Attorney General George Jepsen and Consumer Counsel Elin Swanson Katz today filed formal comments supporting a draft decision issued by the state Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA) last week that will ensure new, comparative rate information is clearly disclosed on electric customers' monthly bills. The requirements stem from legislation passed last year that required the disclosures after thousands of Connecticut residents who purchased electricity from third-party suppliers complained of skyrocketing bills.
PURA's draft decision requires Connecticut's electric distribution companies – Connecticut Light & Power and United Illuminating – to redesign the first page of electric bills to display specific information so that consumers can easily compare rates and track expiration dates.
Additionally, the draft decision holds that electric suppliers will no longer offer variable rates that change daily or weekly; they may only offer variable rates that change monthly, as disclosure of monthly rates are required on the new electric bills.  This change will take effect when the new bill design is implemented.
"This draft decision is a hands-down win for consumers, and I commend PURA for its ongoing implementation of the protections and disclosures passed by the legislature last year," said Attorney General Jepsen. "Last year's legislation promised much greater transparency and flexibility for customers of independent electric suppliers, and this draft decision is an important continuation of that effort. Further, PURA has correctly determined that variable rates should not change every day or every week, which – along with the required bill disclosures – ensures that each month consumers will be able to gauge whether they're truly getting the best possible deal from their electric supplier. I worked closely last year with the Governor, legislative leaders and the Consumer Counsel to enact legal protections for electricity consumers, and PURA has appropriately preserved and advanced those protections through this decision."
“This is a strong draft decision by PURA that unequivocally implements the requirements of last year’s legislation, and is good for virtually anyone who pays an electric bill,” said Consumer Counsel Katz. “Consumers who choose to get their energy from an electric supplier will soon see next month’s rate on the bill, on the same page as the standard offer rate from their electric utility, so they can compare and make sure they are getting a good deal. PURA also made it clear that suppliers have to follow both the letter and the spirit of the new legislation, and stick with the rate they provide notice of – no changing the rate in the middle of the month or the week. These measures, along with the provisions of the new statute that have already been implemented, will ensure that electric consumers know how much they are paying for electricity in advance. Gone will be the days of holding your breath as you open your electric bill, because you have no idea what your rate is. This was a collaborative effort by so many stakeholders, from the Governor and legislators to thousands of consumers who spoke out and called for change, and I’m pleased to see that effort bearing fruit.”
“We heard loud and clear from consumers that these kinds of variable rate plans were confusing and even deliberately deceptive and cost consumers a lot of money,” said Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff (D-Norwalk), who chaired the Energy & Technology Committee last year. “This draft decision enacts provisions of last year’s landmark consumer protection legislation. Banning these variable rate contracts will make the electric market more transparent consumers.”
"We worked long and hard to craft legislation that protects consumers by providing them with the tools they need to compare and contrast the dizzying variety of electricity rates and deals being offered by third-party suppliers," said Representative Lonnie Reed (D-Branford), House chair of the Energy & Technology Committee. "Kudos to PURA for following through with strong decisions that give this law the teeth we intended for it to have."
The draft decision establishes a working group to implement the changes and requires that the redesigned bill be submitted by July 1. According to the draft decision, the newly redesigned bills must include on the first page of the customers' bill:
•    The ratepayer's generation service rate and the term or expiration date of that rate;
•    Any change to the rate that will be effective in the next billing cycle;
•    The cancellation fee, if any;
•    Notification as to whether the rate is variable;
•    The standard service rate currently offered by the electric distribution company and the term or expiration date of that rate;
•    The dollar amount that the consumer would have been billed if they were on the standard service rate, as opposed to purchasing from their third-party supplier; and
•    The link to the Web site for PURA's rate board as well as the toll-free number for customer service.
A final decision in this docket is expected to be issued on January 21.
Assistant Attorneys General Michael Wertheimer and John Wright are assisting the Attorney General with this matter.
Media Contacts:
Office of the Attorney General:
Jaclyn M. Falkowski
860-808-5324 (office)
860-655-3903 (cell)
Office of the Consumer Counsel:
Elin Swanson Katz
860-827-2901 (office)
860-614-8424 (cell)
Senate Democrats:
Adam Joseph
860-240-8641 (office)
House Democrats:
Joe Gresko
860-240-0071 (office)
Consumer Inquiries:
Twitter: @AGJepsen