January 16, 2014

Competitive electricity suppliers charging high rates

Flickr user reverend barry
Flickr user reverend barry
An electricity transmission tower in Somers

State Attorney General George Jepsen and Consumer Counsel Elin Swanson Katz are raising red flags after thousands of Connecticut electricity customers were recently hit with a sharp spike in electric rates.

Jepsen and Katz identified 10 competitive Connecticut electricity suppliers that are charging "thousands" of customers more than 17 cents per kilowatt hour.

That price is more than double the standard-offer rate from Connecticut Light & Power and United Illuminating, which are charging about 9 cents per kilowatt hour, Jepsen and Katz said in a statement.

The companies charging the higher rates, state officials said, are Discount Power, Starion Energy, Choice Energy, Palmco Power, Public Power, NextEra Energy, HOP Energy, Xoom Energy, Blue Pilot Energy and Perigee Energy.

The Public Utilities Regulatory Authority is reviewing the higher rates as a part of an investigation in marketing and operations tactics among retail electricity suppliers.

According to consumer complaints to state officials, the higher rates often come after a fixed-rate introductory period expires. Some customers have said they were automatically switched over to a higher variable rate.

Officials are urging consumers to check their electric bills and to be diligent about contractual terms when signing up for electricity from a supplier. Cancelling a supply agreement may have early termination fees, they said.

Third-party suppliers receive the generation portion of a customer's bill, while utility companies receive the delivery portion.

Gov. Dannel Malloy last year proposed auctioning off supply rights to competitive suppliers to raise money for the state's coffers.

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