ATTORNEY GENERAL, NEW HAVEN MAYOR, SECRETARY OF STATE CALL ON CITIZENS TO OPPOSE UI’S REQUEST FOR HIGHER PROFIT
(5/8/2009) NEW HAVEN- Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, New Haven Mayor John DeStefano, Jr. and Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz today blasted United Illuminating (UI) for seeking higher earnings from state regulators after the company doubled profits by slashing vital capital, maintenance and operations budgets.
Joined by other elected officials and the citizens group Fight the Hike, they also attacked the company’s plan to move its headquarters out of New Haven.
Blumenthal, DeStefano, Byseiwicz, Fight the Hike and other elected officials called on citizens to attend a Department of Public Utility Control (DPUC) hearing to oppose the company’s request to reopen its rate case so it can request a higher profit margin. DPUC currently permits the company an 8.5 percent profit. UI has not yet said how much of an increase it wants.
The hearing is scheduled for 11 a.m. Monday at the DPUC’s New Britain headquarters.
In February, the DPUC rejected UI’s rate $81.5 million hike request -- which Blumenthal vigorously opposed in hearings and filings -- ordering instead a $1 million decrease. UI reacted by reducing its capital, maintenance and operation budgets, doubling the company’s profits.
Blumenthal said, “I will fight UI’s attempt to revive its reprehensible rate increase -- beginning at the DPUC, and going to court if necessary. UI’s pricey Taj Mahal office plan -- using ratepayer money -- is one more example of its callous, anti-consumer attitude. I urge consumers to confront UI, condemning its greed at a time of economic despair and asking DPUC to reject this unconscionable rate hike request. Ratepayers guarantee UI a healthy profit, but UI selfishly demands more, cynically slashing maintenance and operation to achieve greater gains. The company is sacrificing vital maintenance and capital projects for fatter profits, endangering reliability and public safety.”
DeStefano said, “What kind of energy company is actually moving to become more dependent on autos instead of transit and is building a new multi-million dollar headquarters during these challenging financial times? During these difficult times when we have to become smarter and more focused on energy and fiscal policy it's clear that UI is going in the wrong direction."
Bysiewicz said, "The proposed move of United Illuminating's headquarters from downtown New Haven to suburban Orange violates the principles of smart growth and transit-oriented development whose aim is to reduce the amount of congestion on our roadways while creating dynamic urban centers with more walkable areas and more foot traffic to benefit commerce. In fact, this move will create more traffic problems and reduce the amount of open space in Orange, while at the same time harming the economy of downtown New Haven. This is not a sustainable development plan and should be scrapped."
Paula Panzarella of the Fight the Hike said, “Connecticut residents pay the highest electrical rates in the continental U.S. We cannot let UI impoverish us. Approximately 97,500 residential customers and 5,799 commercial customers are more than 90 days behind in their monthly UI bills How many more families must end up on the street, and how many small businesses must close their doors before the DPUC rejects any more UI appeals, and the legislature enacts responsible controls over energy generation and distribution?”
The company in March asked to reopen its rate increase request, claiming its low stock price and inability to get financing forced it to slash routine maintenance and capital projects. Since then, UI’s stock price has increased, and it obtained loans for a new power plant.
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