- Associated Press - Friday, April 27, 2018

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - Connecticut regulators are investigating why utility Eversource has nearly doubled the number of electricity service shut-offs for nonpayment over the past few years, U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy said Friday.

The Connecticut Democrat said he received a letter from Katie Dykes, chairwoman of the state Public Utilities Regulatory Authority, saying the agency is reviewing utility policies on termination of service. In the letter, Dykes called the review a “proceeding on the subject of uncollectible accounts” and electricity and gas distribution companies will be invited to take part.

Murphy called for an investigation after WTNH-TV reported in February that Eversource’s disconnections increased to nearly 52,300 in 2017 from about 28,900 in 2015, based on the regulatory authority’s data.

“I’m glad that PURA is taking such swift action to figure out why Eversource disconnected so many customers,” Murphy said in a statement.

Eversource officials said Friday that they will cooperate with the agency’s review. They said the company, which provides electricity to 1.2 million customers in Connecticut, offers a variety of programs to help customers with their bills.

“As an energy provider, the last thing we want to do is shut off a customer’s power,” Eversource spokeswoman Tricia Taskey Modifica said. “However it’s important to note unpaid bills drive up costs for everyone else. We always suggest customers call us immediately if they’re having difficulty paying their bill so we can work with them.”

A company spokesman previously said the increase in service terminations could have been due to rising energy prices.

Murphy said wholesale electricity prices have remained comparatively low and Eversource’s disconnections warranted a review of its customer outreach efforts. Eversource officials responded that the company provides a significant amount of information to its customers.

Dykes said the regulatory agency also will be inviting community action agencies, advocates for low-income families, the state Office of Consumer Counsel and others to participate in the review.

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