United Illuminating proposes rate increase

Utility pole (Image: Shutterstock)

ORANGE, Conn. (WTNH) — United Illuminating is proposing a rate increase next year to pay for changes in the works and recouping costs from investments made in the system.

“The requests is for three primary things. One is infrastructure replacement. The second would be system modernization and the third would be vegetation management,” said Avangrid Spokesperson Michael West.

West said the increase would help pay for tree trimming and replacing United Illuminating’s aging infrastructure.

“Superstorm Sandy and hurricane Irene seem to be in the far distant past but they are very present to us. We heard our customers ever since those storms happened and there are a number of things we needed to do to make sure the system stays reliable and we make the proper investments in that system,” said West.

The rate increases would only pertain to the distribution portion of UI bills. If approved, customers could an increase of $9 a month on the bill.

“If you compare that to what the total bill is that’s for the average consumer, a five percent bill increase per year for the next three years,” said Elin Katz with the Consumer Counsel.

Katz said over three years, it would be a 38 percent increase in distribution charges for the average customer. Katz says the proposed increase raises concerns about affordability.

“United Illuminating already has among the top ten highest rates in the whole country and if you’re talking about what amounts to a 15 percent bill increase for the average consumer over a three year period that is extraordinary high,” said Katz.

The process requires us as a regulated utility to make the case for the investments we need and the process we would enter into with PURE. It’s a transparent process. It has a lot of public involvement. We present our case, present the data to support the request and the commissions decide what is prudent,” said West.

If approved, the rate would change in January of 2017. The Office of Consumer Counsel said public hearings could start as early as August.

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