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Connecticut PURA Seeks to Simplify Switch to Fixed Electric Rates

August 26, 2015 By Cheryl Kaften

On August 19, the Connecticut Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA) published a request for comments on Public Act 15-90 – a bill enacted in June that bars electric suppliers from charging variable rates to residential customers as of October 1.

The Act also instructed PURA to develop recommendations on or before the effective date of the bill regarding:

(1) The type of generation services rate structure that would be “best-suited for residential customers” who allow a fixed contract with an electric supplier to expire (and begin paying a month-to-month rate for generation services from such supplier); and

(2) The amount of rate increase that would be “just and reasonable” if a monthly generation services rate increase were imposed after the expiration of a fixed contract.

The request was based on concerns raised about the transition from variable to fixed rates at an August 11 PURA Technical Meeting. For example, if a variable rate cannot be charged after the term of a ratepayer’s contract expires, what options would be available to the licensed supplier to retain this customer? Also, if customer consent for a new (subsequent) fixed-term contract cannot be obtained, must the customer “be returned” to electric distribution company standard service? Can suppliers “drop” customers to standard service under such circumstances?

Alternatively, if the customer does not agree to accept a subsequent fixed term contract, is retaining the customer at the same (8.0 cents/kWh) rate on subsequent bill cycles a permissible, option, until either party chooses to end service?

The briefs must be filed with PURA’s Executive Secretary’s Office on or before Friday, August 28 by 4 p.m. Reply Briefs must be filed with the same office on or before Friday, September 4, 2015, by 4 p.m. PURA said it intends to issue an interim decision before the October 1 variable rate ban takes effect, and is not inclined to grant extensions of the current schedule days as a result.

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