After two years of storms, UI seeks a rate increase

United Illuminating took the first steps on Friday to make an additional $95 million through higher distribution rates by filing a letter of intent with state regulators.

The rate increase is in part to recover costs incurred by Tropical Storm Irene, the October Nor'easter and Hurricane Sandy, as well as other major storms that have hit the state since 2008.

James P. Torgerson, chief executive of the utility and its parent company, UIL Holdings Corp., said in a written statement that the rate increase is to fund capital investments that are "essential to replace aging infrastructure, maintain reliability and to harden our delivery system to better withstand extreme weather events."

The utility, which serves most of southwestern Connecticut, hasn't requested a rate increase since 2008. About $67 million would be raised in the first year of rate increases and $28 million in the second, the utility said.

After filing the letter of intent, the utility has about two months to file a formal application with the state Public Utilities Regulatory Authority, which will complete a full review of the rate increase.

Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen said in response to the filing that his office would participate in the review of the utility's request, in light of the state's already high electric rates.

"While I understand the need to upgrade infrastructure and resiliency following the major storms our state has experienced, every proposed expense must be - and will be - carefully reviewed and evaluated," Jepsen said in a written statement.

New rates would take effect January 2014, and the company said it expects the rate increase wouldn't cause an overall increase in customer bills because of the expiration of an existing charge.

"Our distribution operations and maintenance costs for the electric business are comparable to 2010 levels," Torgerson said. "So we've been responsible stewards, managed our expenses well and have gained efficiencies in the business where possible over the years."


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