Constituents often ask me, “Why are energy prices so high, and what can we do about it?”
As winter began, the concern was oil. Therefore, the federal and state governments infused more funding into home heating assistance programs and we extended the gas tax cut to help at the pump. Now, as we see oil prices beginning to come down, Eversource has raised their kilowatt-per-hour rate, leaving most of us concerned about the upcoming warm weather months and the cost to cool our homes.
The truth is complicated. The current high electricity rates are related to how utilities acquire energy on ratepayers behalf. The ramifications of a rising natural gas prices/market brought on by the war in Ukraine led to an anomalously high purchase price made by the utilities last year. Add exorbitant salaries for CEOs, record profits for Eversource, and other factors related to geography, environmentalism and more, and it’s the consumers who are feeling the heat, so to speak.
So what can we do about it? Everyone expects the rates to fall in July based on a decrease in natural gas prices we see every summer. But instability remains a factor until the war ends and much of the world shifts away from Russian fuel. With no control over the impact of the war on global energy prices, we must focus on what we can do at home, both collectively and individually.
The Connecticut Legislature is doing what we can to mitigate the impact of this temporary crisis. Multiple bills seek to address the logistical problems related to helping customers with genuine financial hardship and the seasonal shutoff moratorium, and address affordability of energy long-term more generally.
We are dedicated to trying to assure that we avoid such wild rate gyrations in the future, but none of these measures will bring the immediate, significant relief to ratepayers between now and the July 1 rate reset.
To help bridge that gap, and continue to make energy more affordable in the long term, I will be holding a workshop for Cheshire residents on April 5, from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at Town Hall. Energy 101: A Learn & Save Event will walk customers through ways to save on your electric bill now. Experts from DEEP, PURA, and Energize CT will be on hand to show customers in real time how to change your energy supplier to a third party, which was made legal under deregulation. My family recently locked in a rate which is significantly less than Eversource rates, reducing our monthly bill by close to $100, and we want you to take advantage of that opportunity as well.
We will also have people on hand to explain the numerous options for payment plans for hardships, as well as information on federal and state tax breaks for solar, and more.
Perhaps most exciting is that we have partnered with F.F. Hitchcock, and every event attendee will receive a coupon for a free home energy audit, which includes weatherstripping, duct sealing, installation of water saving low-flow devices, efficiency tests for appliances, and more.
The first 25 to redeem those coupons will receive priority scheduling, with the audit being performed before July 1 to ensure the most savings during the hottest months of the year.
Please join me and my colleagues Rep. Jack Fazzino and Sen. Jan Hochadel for this exciting event. You will leave armed with step-by-step information and the ability to see significant savings on your energy bill starting next month. It’s our honor to serve you in the legislature, and we’re thrilled to bring you actionable advice, useful information … and real savings on your energy bills every month.