Eversource grilled by state lawmakers during PURA hearing
The Public Utilities Regulatory Authority held a virtual public hearing Monday on the recent hike in Eversource rates, with politicians from both sides grilling the utility.
Democrats and Republicans both testified that Eversource needs major changes, with some even wanting to break up the company. They also called Eversource executives overpaid and "arrogant."
"We need to do better. The people of Connecticut deserve better," says Sen. Richard Blumenthal.
Eversource, the state's largest power provider, took more than a week to restore power after Tropical Storm Isaias. A few days before, customers were stunned to see their bills jump dramatically.
"The disconnect between pay and performance is shocking to me," Gov. Ned Lamont says.
"When I spoke with an Eversource supervisor, I was hung up on," says state Rep. Mitch Bolinsky.
Eversource blamed a deal in which it's required to buy power from the Millstone Nuclear Plant near New London at a higher price.
"The dominant component by megawatt hours is Millstone," says Eversource Energy Supply Director Jim Shuckerow.
The utility admits, though, it didn't warn customers about the rate hike.
"We did provide information and training to our customer service representatives, so that they would be prepared," says Eversource Chief Customer Officer Penni Conner.
After Hurricane Irene, Superstorm Sandy and a freak October snowstorm, Eversource raised rates promising to improve service. Lawmakers say they want to know where that money has gone.
"Why has there been such a significant reduction in Eversource line workers, yet there's been a steady increase in profits since 2009?" asked state Rep. Pat Wilson Pheanious.
Another reason your power bill may have increased is because electric companies can raise rates if they didn't make enough money last year. Lamont says he wants to change that and tie rate hikes to good performance.
Eversource and United Illuminating will be back in the hot seat Thursday. Company executives will testify before the state Legislature.