Eversource Plans to Propose New Rate Increase

 The region’s largest utility provider is proposing a multi-million dollar rate hike over the next three years.

If approved, this would cost Eversource ratepayers, on average 6.79 percent more, in a state that already has some of the highest electric delivery rates in the country.

The three-year rate request lists a $255 million increase for year one, followed by a $45 million hike in year two, then $36 million more in year three.

The proposition comes just days after a late-October storm that caused more than 170,000 power outages state-wide and some homes still aren’t back online.

"The filing we made with State of Connecticut Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA) last Friday was well planned out weeks and months before," Eversource spokesperson Tricia Modifica said. "A lot of effort and planning and research goes into a filing like that."

For some customers, the move has bad optics.

One of the country’s most expensive electric providers is asking its customers for a raise, while in 2016, reporting earnings upwards of $942 million.

When asked if the investments could come out of the company’s bottom line instead of ratepayer pockets, Modifica said, "These investments and running this grid is essentially a commodity. We are providing our customers with a service, with electricity, and like all other commodities, the cost of doing that service is passed along through the service."

That service, according to Essex-based ratepayer Lon Seidman, didn’t prove itself worthy during the October 29 storm.

"We just never had the communication to know when we could expect restoration of power," Seidman said. "There were never any updates that could be properly communicated to customers. Customers were literally and figuratively in the dark and I think it’s kind of insulting for all of us to ask now for a couple of hundred of million dollars on top of the couple hundred million dollars we’re already paying."

In its preliminary notice, Eversource references a growing tax burden and a need for capital improvements.

"Putting up new, stronger, taller utility poles and wires, comprehensive tree trimming, along with smart technology," Modifica said.

The company expects to officially file on November 22. After that, it will be up to the state’s regulatory authority, PURA, to decide.

In the meantime, Seidman started an online petition to voice his—and his community’s—concerns.

"At some point, they’ve got to make some of their own investments with their own money here, and stop trying to take it out of our pockets," Seidman said.

PURA will have 180 days to decide once Eversource officially files. If PURA gives it the green light, changes will take effect May 21, 2018.

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