Electric bills will be a little less in January

There was good news for Connecticut's utility customers this week. Not only will electric bills decline due to reduced generation rates, consumers will also benefit from a $5 million federal settlement with Constellation Energy.

The Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA) recently approved reduced generation rates for residential and business customers taking Standard Service generation from Connecticut Light & Power (CL&P) or United Illuminating (UI).

As a result of PURA's action to approve requests submitted by the two companies, effective Jan. 1, 2013:

• CL&P's residential generation rate will decrease about .7 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh), from the current rate of 8.279 cents/kWh to 7.615 cents/kWh. The generation cost for a CL&P residential customer using 750 k/h would decrease by about $5 a month.

• UI's residential generation rate will decrease by just over 1 cent/kWh from the current rate of 8.727 cents/kWh to 7.6974cents/kWh. The generation cost for a UI residential customer using 750 kWh would decrease by about $7.50 a month.

Similar reductions will be applied to generation rates for business customers taking standard service from the state's two largest electric utility companies. CL&P business customers will see a reduction of just under 1 cent/kWh while UI's business customers will see a reduction of about just over 1 cent/kWh.

The generation rate — which recovers the cost to generate electricity at power plants — makes up more than 50% of the monthly electric bill for most residential users.

Other charges on electric bills that recover the cost to deliver electricity — which will be adjusted by the PURA for 2013 in December — include distribution and public benefit charges. Delivery costs also include transmission charges, which are set by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

Approximately 53% of Connecticut's 1.5 million residential customers take standard service generation from CL&P and UI. The remaining residential customers have opted to have their electricity provided by other approved electric suppliers, which can further reduce generation rates for consumers.

Information about choosing an electric supplier can be found at www.ctenergyinfo.com — select "Choosing An Electric Supplier."

PURA officials noted that generation charges have steadily declined in recent years due to lower costs for producing power. They also noted that the overall cost of electricity for consumers has declined by more than 17% in the last two years.

Federal settlement

When they get their January 2013 electric bills, Connecticut ratepayers will see a benefit from a $5 million settlement between the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and the Constellation Energy Commodities Group, Inc., Attorney General George Jepsen, Consumer Counsel Elin Swanson Katz and Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA) Chairman Arthur House announced Thursday.

In March, FERC reached a settlement with Constellation Energy to resolve an investigation into manipulation in energy markets, including the New England region. The settlement included a $135 million fine paid to the federal government and a $110 million forfeiture of unjust profits. As part of that forfeiture, Constellation was to pay $20 million to the ISO-New England (ISO-NE) area for the benefit of consumers.

Following discussions, the involved states — Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont — agreed on a disbursement plan based on each state's proportional monthly energy use from Sept. 1, 2007, to Dec. 31, 2008. A request for disbursement was filed with FERC on Nov. 16.

"Any manipulation in our energy markets negatively impacts consumers," Mr. Jepsen said. "Our goal in this matter was to provide some restitution to electric ratepayers in a fair and reasonable manner and, working cooperatively, we were able to achieve that goal. All Connecticut electric ratepayers will rightly benefit from this settlement."

Connecticut's $5 million allocation — about 25% of the total disbursement to the New England states — will benefit ratepayers with Connecticut Light & Power, United Illuminating and the Connecticut Municipal Electric Energy Cooperative. All Connecticut electric ratepayers will receive credits on their electric bills beginning in January 2013.