UI rate hike sparks possibility of CT political power battle

Southwestern Connecticut United Illuminating (UI) customers will dig deeper into their pockets after regulators approved a 50 percent rate increase Tuesday.

The Department of Public Utility Control signed off on the energy company?s hike, which will go into effect over a year starting in January. UI says power providers are charging the company more money, forcing the utility to pass on costs to consumers.

State Senator John McKinney (R-Fairfield) wants to suspend the Public Service Company Tax that?s built into utility bills. Republicans say a projected $500 million state surplus would absorb the $100 million the state would lose as a result of the suspension. McKinney says he hopes Democrats will sign the plan, which will be introduced January 3, 2007, to provide immediate relief to customers. The Democrat-controlled Energy and Technology Committee will hold a public hearing on the matter Wednesday.

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