Sen. Murphy calls for investigation into Eversource’s high shutoff rates

After an investigation by WTNH News 8 revealed that the rate at which Eversource — New England’s largest energy provider — has disconnected customers from electricity for nonpayment has nearly doubled in the last two years, U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy called on the Connecticut Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA) to examine Eversource’s actions.

In a letter addressed to Kate S. Dykes, chair of PURA, Murphy expressed concern that Eversource may not being doing enough outreach to its low-income customers. Last year, Eversource filed documents with PURA to request a rate increase starting in May 2018.

“It has come to my attention that since 2015, the rate at which Eversource has disconnected customers has dramatically increased. These increases are alarming,” wrote Murphy. “By most measures, Connecticut’s economy has improved from 2015 to 2017, and over that same period, wholesale energy prices have remained at their lowest levels since the beginning of the century. I respectfully request that PURA scrutinize Eversource’s disconnections and engagement in outreach programs for low-income customers.”

According to PURA, Eversource made 28,851 disconnections in 2015, and 52,298 disconnections in 2017 — an almost 100% increase.

Mitch Gross, media spokesman for Eversource, responded that the PURA shutoff rate information was correct and issued the following statement:

“We disagree with the senator’s comment regarding our communications efforts and have reached out to his office regarding his concerns. 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 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. Unfortunately, energy costs remain high, not just in Connecticut but throughout New England. While shutting off any customer is a last resort, unpaid bills drive up costs for everyone else.”

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