On Wednesday, Attorney General William Tong released a statement praising a final decision by the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA) rejecting Eversource-owned Aquarion’s $36 million rate hike.
The requested rate hike would have increased water rates by more than 30 percent over three years for 207,000 Aquarion customers across 56 cities and towns in Connecticut.
A draft decision by PURA issued in February instead ordered a rate decrease of 0.192 percent ($379,365) for Connecticut customers. Wednesday’s final decision went a step further, decreasing rates by nearly $2 million, or about $67 per year for the average customer.
“This is an aggressive pro-consumer decision by PURA. Connecticut families pay far too much for their utilities. This relief is well-timed and sorely needed,” Tong said in his statement. “My office opposed this hike from day one. I thank the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority and particularly Chairman Gillett for her leadership on behalf of Connecticut consumers.”
In a brief filed in January, Attorney General Tong urged PURA to reject the rate increase.
On Wednesday afternoon, State Rep Steve Meskers (D-150) said, “While I am a strong supporter of the private sector, the role of our market regulators with public utility companies or private utility companies that are managing our public water supply requires strict and aggressive oversight.”
“I welcome the rulings of the chair of PURA, Marissa Gillett, and would hope to see her colleagues more robustly stand behind her decisions,” he added.
“I expect the regulatory authorities to exercise the appropriate level of oversight, and I expect that arguments in favor of essentially higher rates be presented by the regulated, and not by the regulators. We as a body do not represent the shareholders, we represent the rate payers. I’m very satisfied with the outcome and decision rendered.”
Read the full brief here.
Aquarion said in a statement that it is disappointed with by PURA’s decision:
“From aging infrastructure and lead service lines, to per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in water threatening human health, the water industry faces serious challenges that can only be met through prudent, sustained investment in our State’s water infrastructure. Regrettably, PURA’s decision is silent on how to address these challenges with reduced resources.”