What the hike in electricity prices in Connecticut means for residents and their electric bills this winter

Photo of Amy Coval
Eversource Energy workers demonstrate the steps involved in power restoration at the company’s training site in Berlin Oct. 28, 2020.

Eversource Energy workers demonstrate the steps involved in power restoration at the company’s training site in Berlin Oct. 28, 2020.

Brian A. Pounds / Hearst Connecticut Media file photo

On Thursday, Nov. 17, electric companies Eversource and United Illuminating warned Connecticut customers that their electric bills could be up $80 this coming January. 

Both the electric companies and Connecticut leadership addressed the spike in electric rates for this upcoming winter. However, this still leaves residents wondering what the implications are for their own bills and ability to heat their homes.

Here is what you need to know about the electric rate spike announced on Nov. 17.

Why is this increase happening?

Eversource and United Illuminating have announced they are increasing their prices for customers in Connecticut and greater New England. This has a lot to do with Russia’s war on Ukraine, as Russia was once a big supplier of United States’ natural gas. However, since the war began, the U.S. has been cut off from certain natural gas imports, which has caused the supply to go down and the demand to go up; this drives the price of natural gas up and makes it more expensive for people to do things like heat their homes.

Why do natural gas prices affect my electricity prices?

Natural gas is one form of a "fossil fuel" which is used to generate electricity in the U.S. The gas is burned to create heat. This heat spins a turbine and the rotation of said turbine spins a generator which then produces electricity.

Is this increase in electricity rates normal?

Prices for electricity always fluctuate between summer and winter as demand changes, but an increase of this size is not normal for Connecticut residents. The war in Ukraine has caused an unprecedented rise in gas prices.

Is this increase in electricity rates allowed?

The increase in the “cents per kilowatt hour” price of electricity from Eversource and United Illuminating has to be approved by Connecticut’s PURA, or the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority. However, if the new prices are approved, they will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2023.

Where will this show up on my electric bill?

Electric bills are broken down into two parts: supply and delivery. The supply section of Connecticut resident’s bills is the part that represents the actual electricity used, and it is paid directly to electric companies. Delivery costs are for the infrastructure that it takes to get the electricity to your home. The supply section of Connecticut resident’s bills will be the part that will see the increase due to the Eversource and United Illuminating price hikes.

What is Connecticut leadership doing about the increase?

Gov. Ned Lamont said in a press release that he was “disappointed” by the high increases in rates and said he has called on leaders from both Eversource and United Illuminating to talk about long-term solutions. The Connecticut Attorney General said this large spike in rates should make both Connecticut and the U.S. think about where our energy is coming from and our reliance on other countries. In the short-term, Lamont has proposed increasing the state’s payment to the energy assistance program, thereby potentially helping more people pay their bills. He also said this week he would consider other ways to help with cost of living expenses.

What can I do about the electricity price hikes?

While the price hikes are not going to be in place anytime before Jan. 1, 2023, there are several things Connecticut residents can do in the meantime to help manage this price increase on their electric bills.

Those who are eligible can sign up for the Connecticut Energy Assistance Program. This program can get Connecticut residents anywhere from $250 to $600 paid directly to their electric company on their behalf.

Connecticut residents are eligible for the program if they already receive some sort of federal funding like SNAP, or they are eligible based on the income criteria below.

Residents can also look into contracts with third-party electricity suppliers. Connecticut residents are granted freedom of choice through Eversource and can look into alternative sources. More information on third-party electricity suppliers can be found here.

Additionally, residents can switch to energy-efficient solutions to rely less on traditional heat this winter. These solutions range from appliances, to window and insulation changes. EnergizeCT offers recommendations on energy-efficient swaps, and many of these changes also come with monetary incentives and rebates.