Kupchick and Devlin back electric rate protections

State Reps. Brenda Kupchick (R-132) & Laura Devlin (R-134) came out in strong support of a bipartisan energy proposal which further protects residential customers from variable electric-rate contracts.

This legislation bans the ability for electric retailers to provide variable rate contracts to residential consumers. The retailers will only be able to offer fixed rate contracts to residential ratepayers decreasing consumer confusion with the electric retail market.

In 2014, Rep. Kupchick supported a new law which combated third-party electric retailers who attract customers with low teaser rates, then bump them far above the standard-offer rate charged by Eversource or United Illuminating. The 2014 law also required a new billing format in July that gives consumers notice of when their electric contracts expire.

The ban would apply only to residential customers. Many businesses, especially large companies that are major consumers of electricity, have sophisticated staffs that can monitor the variable market.

“We need to stamp out rogue electric retailers prey on residential consumers and take advantage of their inability to decipher the incredibly difficult energy market,” said Rep. Kupchick, a member of the Energy and Technology Committee.

“There is bi-partisan agreement that electric variable rates for residential customers unfairly target the ratepayers especially the seniors in Connecticut. We need to make sure every effort is made to educate and protect these consumers,” said Rep. Devlin. “Ratepayers are drawn in with “teaser rates” and over time, these rates can be tremendous on a bill cycle by suppliers can increase rates without notice and place a penalty on the consumer if canceled.Electricity is bought and sold as a commodity, and third-party retailers compete with Eversource and United Illuminated, sometimes acquiring and re-selling power at cheaper rates based on their success in procuring power on the open market.

The bill would ban new variable contracts as of Oct. 1, but not completely extinguish variable rates. At the conclusion of contract, a consumer still could be assigned a variable rate if they do not sign a new contract or switch to the standard offer.

In addition to banning variable rate contracts, this bill requires PURA to study what should happen when a customer’s contract with a retailer expires and the consumer fails to sign a new contract. Current laws allows the retailer to change the consumer’s generation price month to month until the consumer signs a new contract or changes providers.

The bill has now passed the House of Representatives overwhelmingly, with both Kupchick and Devlin voting for the bill.

State Reps. Laura Devlin (R-134) and Brenda Kupchick (R-132).

State Reps. Laura Devlin (R-134) and Brenda Kupchick (R-132).

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