Last month State Senator Len Fasano and I welcomed Representative Laura Hoydick, the ranking member on the General Assembly’s Energy and Technology committee, on the “Dave & Len Show.” The episode focused on energy policy and issues with Representative Hoydick, who described some of the new energy laws we passed last session. Due to the popularity of the segment, I wanted to discuss the laws and legislation passed in the 2014 legislative session to help create a more savvy consumer by making market choices readily available, especially when it comes to energy.
Over the years, I have encountered a number of troubling stories regarding electricity bills, from both business and residential customers. Many recall opening their electric bill and being completely stunned to find that monthly charges had nearly doubled and in some cases even tripled. My constituents described feeling confused and powerless; consequently they were left no choice but to pay the bill.
My colleagues and I found this phenomenon of price gouging to be absolutely unacceptable; therefore, S.B. 2 was passed to better protect electricity customers. This bill seeks to avoid any future spikes in rates and clears up any confusion with contracts. Also, this legislation was enacted with the aim of better protecting electricity consumers. This consumer protection legislation made purchasing from third party energy marketers and local utility companies and suppliers more transparent by:
- Making it easier for customers to compare pricing policies and charges. The law requires the state to initiate a redesign of the billing format for residential customers, therefore making it easier to compare pricing policies and charges of different suppliers.
- Allowing customers to choose how they prefer to receive information related to bill notices. Customers are able to decide how they prefer to receive billing notifications. Options include U.S. mail, e-mail, text messages or a mobile application. This prevents an electric supplier from charging a customer month-to month variable rates after a contract expires. They must provide written notification to the customer 45 days prior to the beginning of the rate change.
- Prohibiting suppliers from misleading customers. A supplier is prohibited from making a statement suggesting a customer is required to choose a supplier. Additionally, the legislation prohibits any door-to-door salesperson for a supply company from wearing apparel, carrying equipment or distributing materials with the logo of an electric distribution company, including Northeast Utilities and United Illuminating. This prevents supply companies from misleading customers into thinking a supply company is associated with a larger distribution company.
- Requiring that all fixed rates must be fixed for at least 3 months. That rate can also be lowered, but never raised in that set period of time.
Many of you may have noticed that your bills now contain quarterly inserts which are filled with helpful information. Also, this and much more can be accessed by going online to www.energizect.com. This comprehensive consumer protection strategy has made all rates available for third parties and local utility companies, promotes the sales tax exemptions for energy-efficient products including: Doors, Windows, Geothermal heat pumps, Water heaters, Programmable thermostats, Fluorescent light bulbs, Furnaces and Insulation. Energize CT programs, rebates and financing resources are available for existing homes, apartments, condos, and for homeowners building new homes or remodeling. Additionally, Energize CT has smart energy solutions for businesses of all sizes.
Through this comprehensive consumer protection strategy, I believe we set a standard for energy marketers – we are listening to consumers and will not allow them to be taken advantage of. For more information on energy savings, please visit www.EnergizeCT.com or call 1-877-WISE-USE (877-947-3873). You can also contact the Connecticut Department of Revenue Services at (860-297-5962) or http://www.ct.gov/DRS/site/default.asp.
Also see, http://www.energizect.com/residents/solutions/lighting-appliances-electronics/ whether you are shopping for a new refrigerator or TV – simply changing a light bulb – choose products with the ENERGY STAR label. These products meet energy efficiency guidelines set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy. By consuming less energy, ENERGY STAR certified products substantially cut your energy costs. The ENERGY STAR label can be found on more than 65 different kinds of products found in our homes and workplaces.
I urge you to take advantage of these resources to the fullest.
As always, if you would like to discuss this or another state issue, please don’t hesitate to contact me. I can be reached in my office at 800-842-1423, my cell at 203-980-0030 or email at [email protected].