While electricity bills are falling, UI looks for increase in 2014

United Illuminating announced on Friday it is looking for a rate increase for 2014, which the company says will not actually increase most customers’ bills.

The New Haven-based electric utility that serves the greater New Haven and Bridgeport areas, is seeking to increase its distribution rate to bring in $67 million in additional revenue in 2014 and $28 million more revenue in $2015. It also will request a six-year recovery plan for its storm related costs over the last few years, including Sandy and Irene.

Besides the storm costs, UI said it is making improvements to the distribution system. These do not include calls to put more lines under ground.

The move comes as UI residential customers are expected to see a 2-to-4 percent drop in their bills as a result of a drop in generation charges.

The average residential customer on the residential rate “R” had a monthly bill of about $145.34 in 2012 and can expect an average bill of $142.91 in 2014 if that customer continues to use the same amount of electricity.

A customer on the time-of-use rate could see his or her bill drop to $136.78 from $142.69.

The rate increase, despite being UI’s first since 2008, will be watched closely by officials as Connecticut still has some of the highest rates in the country.

“Connecticut’s electric rates remain extremely high. Any and every proposal to increase those rates must be thoroughly scrutinized. My office will participate in this proceeding, and I will urge PURA to approve rates that are no more than just and reasonable, as required by law,” said Attorney General George Jepsen, in a press release Friday. “While I understand the need to upgrade infrastructure and resiliency following the major storms our state has experienced, every proposed expense must be – and will be – carefully reviewed and evaluated.”

Rob Varnon