Connecticut joins other New England states to lower electric bills, but few simple solutions

The new year means a new hit to your wallet – much higher electric bills. On Tuesday, one utility warned regulators from Connecticut and two other states that long-term solutions may be years away.
Starting this month, Eversource and United Illuminating bills could go up an average of $80 until June. It’s a higher supply charge that reflects what both utilities pay for electricity on the open market.

In a virtual information session, Connecticut’s Public Utility Regulatory Authority joined counterparts from Massachusetts and New Hampshire to investigate the price hike. All sides agreed New England relies too heavily on natural gas – and thanks to the war in Ukraine, that’s gotten very expensive.
Natural gas now makes up more than half of New England’s power supply, after the region shifted away from coal-fired power plants to combat climate change. Connecticut’s last coal plant, in Bridgeport, closed in 2021. Gov. Ned Lamont has hailed natural gas as a “bridge” to cleaner energy sources like wind, solar and hydroelectric power from Canada. But Eversource warned regulators that New England will still be heavily reliant on natural gas for at least another decade.
"The bottom line is that our current regional power supply price increase is a direct result of our region's over-dependence on a single fuel for electricity generation – natural gas,” said Claire Coleman, Connecticut’s state consumer counsel.
In Connecticut, Eversource’s supply charges are going up 100%. In Massachusetts, it's 43%. In New Hampshire, they jumped 105% in August 2022. But here's some hopeful news: next month, Granite State rates are dropping 11%.
New Hampshire’s state consumer advocate said it’s little comfort for residents.
"Frankly, Granite Staters are 'storming the Bastille' with torches and pitchforks,” said consumer advocate Donald Kreis.
Connecticut’s 2023 legislative session begins Wednesday. Some lawmakers want changes to how utilities buy electricity on the open market.
"I find it inexplicable, how a company as large as, and with the purchasing power of Eversource, has seen their standard rate increase more than any electric company in Connecticut,” said state Sen. Bob Duff (D-Norwalk), the Senate Democratic leader.
Others are worried about something more serious – having enough electric supply to avoid rolling blackouts in an extended cold snap. Even some Democrats believe more natural gas production may be needed in the short term.
"At this point all things are on the table, as far as I'm concerned,” said state Sen. Norm Needleman (D-Essex), co-chair of the legislature’s Energy and Technology Committee. “Because as a state senator representing 100,000 people, I am not comfortable putting my residents at risk."