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Rell, Fonfara to Revive Failed Conn. Bill Harmful to Retail Choice

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January 24, 2011

As expected, the Connecticut legislature's joint Energy & Technology Committee has voted to draft Senate Bill 1, An Act Concerning Energy Policy and Finance, which will serve as the vehicle to re-introduce last year's failed energy bill which would have erected several barriers to retail choice.

The bill is again being led by committee co-chairs Sen. John Fonfara and Rep. Vickie Nardello.

Last year's energy bill (SB 493) passed both houses, and was only stopped by a veto by then Gov. M. Jodi Rell, who has since left office.  New Gov. Dan Malloy said he would have signed last year's energy bill.

Specifically, SB 493 would have allowed the procurement of Standard Service supplies on a managed portfolio with a mix of product types and lengths (see 5/5).  Furthermore, in attempts to reduce electric prices 15% by July 2012, the bill permitted the procurement of generation via long-term contracts or "other interventions [that] are needed to achieve the goal."

SB 493 would have directed the DPUC to investigate the costs of billing, collection, and other services provided by the electric distribution companies or the Department solely for the benefit of electric suppliers and aggregators, and required the DPUC to, "order an equitable allocation of such costs among electric suppliers and aggregators."

Residential customer termination fees would have been capped at the lower of $100 or twice the estimated bill for energy services for an average month.  For customers at or under 100 kW, the bill prohibited door-to-door marketing outside the hours of 10 a.m. and 6 p.m.  These two provisions are now being considered by the DPUC in its investigation of consumer protection issues.

The legislation would have held that any third-party agent who contracts with or is otherwise compensated by an electric supplier to sell electric generation services shall be a legal agent of the electric supplier.

Text of the new SB 1 has not yet been drafted, though it is likely most, if not all, of the provisions of SB 493 will be included.  The description of SB 493 above is of the amended, passed version of the bill, and it should be noted as originally filed, SB 493 would have required suppliers to provide a direct comparison of their rates with default service, and would have required a written contract to be provided to the customer prior to enrollment, regardless of sales method (e.g. telesales).

Formal text of the new SB 1 is expected by early March.


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