The state’s Consumer Advocate and Attorney General are warning consumers across Connecticut about electric rates skyrocketing.
"This is a big slam," said Jim Santi, of Stamford. He was whacked with an electric bill more than double what he was expecting. Santi said he got no warning.
According to the attorney general's office, tens of thousands of customers might be feeling the same kind of shock.
"I was totally blindsided by this. I had no clue,” said Santi, who has lived in his Stamford home for 30 years.
Four years ago, he switched power companies and signed on with Discount Power, a third party electric supplier.
Unlike Connecticut Light & Power and United Illuminating, third party suppliers' rates are not regulated by the state. Things were OK, but then Santi got his latest bill.
He showed it to the Troubleshooters. Santi’s rate jumped from $00.09 per kilowatt hour to $00.19 an hour --a 110 percent increase. His bill topped $1,000.
Jim’s house is all electric, so he’s at the mercy of the meter.
"There are no caps at this point on what a retail supplier can charge a customer,” said Joseph Rosenthal, of the Consumer Council.
The Council and the State Attorney General are warning consumers to check their electric bill if they use a third party supplier.
Some consumers might be paying rates more than double the current standard of $00.09.
Discount Power is on the list, but there are a slew of other companies the AG said have higher than standard rates.
Discount Power told the Troubleshooters some prices rise and fall with energy demand, which has hit record highs this winter. But the Consumer Council said blaming cost increases on market changes doesn't cut it.
"There needs to be more communication in advance so customers will not face this sort of nasty surprise,” said Rosenthal.
As for Santi, he's switched his electric company back to CL&P.
"At least I know that I’m not going to get a double or some ridiculous amount that I'm stuck having to pay,” he said.
The Consumer Council and Attorney General list electric suppliers that currently have at least some customers on rates higher than 17 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh): Discount Power, Choice Energy, Palmco Power, Starion Energy, Public Power, NextEra Energy, HOP Energy, Xoom Energy, Blue Pilot Energy, and Perigee Energy.