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Regulator Denies Motion To Close Current Review Of Whether Retail Supplier Rates Are Just & Reasonable

December 13, 2022

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Copyright 2010-21
Reporting by Paul Ring •

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The Connecticut Public Utilities Regulatory Authority denied a motion from the Retail Energy Advancement League ('REAL') which had asked that PURA close PURA's current investigation into whether retail supplier offers are just and reasonable, as REAL had said that, "the current market confirms that there can be no proof that electric supplier products are overpriced or harmful to residential customers."

As previously reported, PURA is conducting an investigation of supplier rates pursuant to Conn. Gen Stat. § 16-245(a) which states that PURA has the authority to condition an electric supplier's license and access to the systems and billing of the electric distribution companies on terms the authority determines to be just and reasonable, including, but not limited to, proof that the electric supplier's products are not overpriced or harmful to residential customers

REAL had said that, "According to data published by the Office of Consumer Counsel ('OCC') in its most recent (August 2022) monthly supplier fact sheet, supplier products are saving residential customers money. In fact, in August 2022 alone, residential customers experienced a savings of $1,320,478. In every OCC fact sheet posted for 2022, OCC reports a total savings to residential customers, for a total savings between January and September 2022 of $10,432,771."

"This savings is based on a straight monetary comparison against the then-current standard service rates, and does not take into account any additional value beyond the standard service product that suppliers offer to customers," REAL noted

REAL further noted, effective January 1, 2023, large increases in default service rates at the EDCs (generally jumping from 10-12 cents to over 20 cents)

See more background here

PURA's Office of Education, Outreach, and Enforcement (EOE) as well as the state's Office Of Consumer Counsel each objected to REAL's motion

EOE said, "[t]he fact that suppliers might currently be performing well, in this singular moment, does not obviate the need for an examination of their past performances and an examination of what could be needed to help their future performances."

OCC said, "OCC submits that any allegedly favorable offers in the supplier market at present constitute insufficient information and create a skewed picture from which to make the determination that supplier offers are not overpriced or harmful to residential customers," and that, "any factual determination that supplier offers are not overpriced or harmful, based solely on this moment in time, without a more complete record, would be reliant on a segment in time that is not representative of supplier practices or the third-party supplier market more generally."

"Given the history of supplier practices in Connecticut, and the uncertainty surrounding how long supplier offer prices will generally remain below the price of standard service, it would be unreasonable for PURA to make a general assessment of supplier offers solely on the market at this time, as requested by REAL," OCC had said

In a motion ruling from the PURA Executive Secretary, PURA said that, "REAL launches a fusillade of objections against the Authority’s investigation of products offered by REAL’s members."

PURA said that, "Both EOE and OCC make valid and obvious points, easily refuting the unconvincing rationale underlying REAL’s 'nothing-to-see-here' argument."

"[T]he Authority is in the midst of an investigation of supplier offers permitted pursuant to Conn. Gen. Stat. § 16-245(a) under its broad powers to monitor and investigate the retail electric market. The Authority has not completed its investigation, made any finding, reached any conclusion, or taken any enforcement action," PURA said

Chris Ercoli, President and CEO of REAL, offered the following statement in response to the denial of the motion:

"It is deeply concerning and disappointing that two state offices tasked with representing the interests of Connecticut ratepayers and consumers are so opposed to the supplier market which, by their own admissions, is providing much needed relief and benefit to Connecticut customers. REAL has offered to work with both parties to create better educational opportunities to benefit the state’s electricity consumers."

--- Statement from Chris Ercoli, President and CEO of REAL

REAL noted that it also released its own shopping guide (click here), "to help Connecticut customers shop and lock in a rate that will save them up to 30% on their standard service supply rate this winter."

Docket No. 18-06-02RE01


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