PURA launches investigation into Eversource shutoffs

U.S. Senator Chris Murphy released a statement today after the Connecticut Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA) heeded his call to launch an investigation to examine why Eversource — New England’s largest energy provider — has nearly doubled the rate at which it disconnects customers from electricity for nonpayment over the last two years.

In a letter to Murphy, Kate S. Dykes, chair of PURA, announced an investigation to review Eversource’s uncollectible accounts, evaluate trends in program costs and participation, and strategies to best deliver those programs. As part of the investigation, PURA will accept input from electric and gas utilities, the Connecticut Office of Consumer Counsel, and other community organizations.

“I’m glad that PURA is taking such swift action to figure out why Eversource disconnected so many customers,” said Murphy. “I’ll be in close contact with PURA to see this investigation through.”

“In your letter, you expressed concern that while wholesale electricity rates have remained comparatively low and Eversource offers many programs to assist limited income customers, the upturn in disconnections warrants review of the company’s outreach efforts. My fellow commissioners and I share your concern,” wrote Katie S. Dykes in a letter to Murphy. “To that end, I am establishing a proceeding on the subject of uncollectible accounts to evaluate trends in program costs and participation, and strategies to best deliver these programs.”

According to PURA, Eversource made 28,851 disconnections in 2015, and 52,298 disconnections in 2017 — an almost 100% increase. WTNH News 8 investigators uncovered the increase in disconnections.

In response, Eversource spokesman Tricia Modifica said, “We appreciate the senator’s concerns and will work cooperatively with PURA to provide all the information needed. As an energy provider, the last thing we want to do is shut off a customer’s power. The electric company tries to work with customers before turning their power off. Through a variety of channels including social media, our website — Eversource.com — and news releases, we provide our customers with a significant amount of information about the variety of programs that can help them. We always suggest customers call us immediately if they’re having difficulty the paying their bill so we can work with them. We also regularly recommend customers take advantage of the many energy efficiency options available to help lower their overall energy use.”