Residents Outraged Over Proposed CL&P Rate Hike

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    NEWSLETTERS

    NBCConnecticut.com
    Concerned residents met with CL&P officials and state legislators to discuss a proposed rate increase that would cause the average customer's bill to spike by $150 per year.

    Customers lashed out at CL&P's proposal to increase electric rates during the first of three public hearings on the issue.

    The Public Utilities Regulatory Authority held the hearing Wednesday night at its headquarters in New Britain.

    The proposed $231.5-million rate increase would cause the average customer to pay an additional $150 per year.

    During the hearing, customers expressed outrage at the sharp increase targeted for the fixed fees that all customers pay regardless of how much energy they use.

    Fixed fees would jump from $16 a month to $25.50 under the proposal. Distribution charges would also go up.

    "They had a really big increase recently, maybe within the last couple of years, and here it is they have another large increase. It's getting to be a little bit untenable," said West Hartford resident Desiree Bartholomew.

    Others expressed concern over the increase expected to the company's profits.

    "Why should the rate payer pay for hardening a system the officers in the company have neglected for years?" said Brian Coggshall, an electrician for CL&P.

    Some, however, spoke in favor of part of the company's proposal, saying infrastructure improvements are greatly needed, especially after the October snowstorm in 2011 that left some residents in the dark more than 10 days.

    "The businesses in Connecticut, especially in our area where we have significant amount of shoreline, need to have a reliable infrastructure so that business is not interrupted," said Thomas Sheridan, president of the Chamber of Commerce of Eastern Connecticut.

    Berlin Town Manager Denise McNair said she was also open to the idea.

    "We would just ask that you be fair and reasonable and consider the request in light of the infrastructure investments that the company has been making," said McNair.

    CL&P representatives attended the hearing and explained the rationale behind the proposed rate hike.

    "Our customers expect and deserve a strong reliable system. We're committed to making that happen and this rate adjustment is part of that," said company spokesman Mitch Gross.

    Regulators plan to hold two more public hearings around the state before making a decision in December.

    "Don't pick on the little guy, please. Don't pick on the little guy," implored New Britain resident Patricia Johnson.

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