Energy and Technology Committee

JOINT FAVORABLE REPORT

Bill No.:

SB-1101

Title:

AN ACT CONCERNING COORDINATION OF LOW-INCOME ENERGY PROGRAMS.

Vote Date:

3/19/2009

Vote Action:

Joint Favorable Substitute

PH Date:

3/10/2009

File No.:

SPONSORS OF BILL:

Energy & Technology Committee

REASONS FOR BILL:

This proposed bill requires the DPUC to open an investigation into the development of a discount rate program for limited income customers.

Proposed Substitute LCO No. 5094, technical revisions to the bill.

RESPONSE FROM ADMINISTRATION/AGENCY:

Don Downes, Chairperson, Department of Public Utility Control, spoke in favor of the bill recommending the committee to consider an amendment to the language substituting “contested case” for a “proceeding”. Secondly, the Department does not need to remind all well-intentioned legislators that no power is derived for free and that protecting one class of customers translates into other customers bearing the burden of such special rates.

NATURE AND SOURCES OF SUPPORT:

Rich Soderman, CT L&P, appeared in favor stating an investigation at the DPUC is the best place to determine how a discount rate can fit into the existing menu of limited-income energy programs. During the DPUC's investigation all interested parties can provide their input, factually determinations can be made, and an implementation plan can be developed. The CT L&P would expect to actively participate in that proceeding.

Shirley Bergert, CLS, spoke in favor stating that this bill directs the Department of Public Utility Control to conduct a proceeding and develop low income gas and electric service rates for service provided by public service electric distribution and gas companies, which, to the extent practicable, coordinates available assistance to allow low income households to afford necessary utility service.

Laura Gonzales, UI, testified in support of the bill stating that this new discount rate not be in addition to other customer funded assistance programs. The new lifeline should be to provide a utility bill that eligible customers are able to afford. The intent should not be to provide a free utility service to the same customers. Therefore the new discounted rate should replace existing matching payment programs, both UI's Mapp Program and the state mandated Forgiveness Program.

NATURE AND SOURCES OF OPPOSITION:

CBIA, submitted testimony in opposition stating that shifting the cost of energy from one class of consumer to another does not address the underlying problem of high energy rates. It simply shifts the cost burden, which, ultimately, will hurt everyone in Connecticut.

Reported by: Jessica Rosario

Date: March 23, 2009