Monday, March 12, 2007

Connecticut General Assembly Holds Forum on Electricity Restructuring Problems

Like New York, Connecticut also "restructured" its electricity industry by allowing utilities to sell off their power plants and form holding company structures. This meant that power must be acquired for consumers in wholesale markets ostensibly overseen by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), which has adopted a system of wholesale electricity market rates tantamount to deregulation. Connecticut revised its statutes, in contrast to New York, where the New York Public Service Commission (NYPSC) effectuated restructuring through voluntary "rate/restructuring" agreements with the state's utilities and "light regulation" orders.

With most small customers still dependent on the distribution utilities for energy supply, with Connecticut electricity prices rising, the Connecticut General Assembly held an Energy & Technology Committee Informational Forum on Electric Retail Competition on March 6 and 8, 2007 to consider its options and legislative proposals to address the situation.

In one proposed bill, the failure of retail competition to attract significant numbers of small customers would be addressed by adopting a "retail choice referral program" similar to the "ESCO Referral Program" adopted by the NYPSC in 2006. PULP's Executive Director, Gerald Norlander, was invited to present testimony regarding the New York "ESCO Referral Program," in which he recommended that it not be implemented in other states.

A video webcast of the forum is at CT-N. Slides and summaries of the forum testimony are available at PULP's website.

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