By Associated Press - Thursday, September 10, 2020

NEW BRITAIN, Conn. (AP) - Electricity customers Thursday lashed out again against Connecticut’s largest utility for large increases in their bills - some hundreds of dollars higher - following a rate increase earlier this year that took many by surprise.

The state Public Utilities Regulatory Authority held a second hearing via videoconference as it revisits a rate increase it approved for Eversource that took effect July 1. The agency suspended the increase on July 31 after a flood of complaints by customers.

Donna Lane, of Plymouth, said her electricity bill last month ballooned to $518, which she said was more than her car payment and half her mortgage.

“It has gotten to the point now where we actually have to make the decision of can we afford to buy groceries or do we need to have the electric stay on,” Lane said. “Please do something.”

Former state Sen. Len Suzio, a Republican from Meriden, urged PURA to investigate why Connecticut customers pay the second-highest electricity rates in the country, second only to Hawaii.

An Eversource spokesperson, Tricia Taskey Modifica, said in statement Thursday that customers’ bills may still be higher than normal after the rate increase suspension because of several factors. She said they include increased use of air conditioners and other appliances because of hot weather this summer, more customers staying home during the coronavirus pandemic and higher prices charged by electricity suppliers.

The company is mindful of the impact on customers and is offering payment plans to avoid service disconnections, Taskey Modifica said. She attributed high costs in Connecticut to transportation expenses related to bringing natural gas and oil to the state to fuel power plants.

The utility posted profit of $909 million in 2019, down from $1.03 billion in 2018.

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