Thursday, September 18, 2008

Fighting SCG on overeanings and on Increases

My comments to the DPUC hearing 8/29/08

Dear Honorable Board of Commissioners:

I come before you this morning to express my feelings of disgust with SCG overcharging us ratepayers & strongly protest any increase in rates. I represent a number of interests. I am a homeowner in New Haven that heats our home with natural gas. I am representing my family business of which I am part of the 3rd generation. Lastly I come before you as a member of the New Haven Board of Aldermen where I represent the 28th Ward.

As a homeowner I know how hard it is to pay my SCG especially in the winter. In an effort to be more energy efficient a few years ago I had installed new windows in my home – with argon and low e. We keep the thermostat down as low as my kids can take it. We wear sweaters and slippers in the home so we don’t have to turn up the heat.

As a manufacturer still based wholly in West Haven we are a substantial user of natural gas. We have consultants that track the natural gas & fuel oil markets and advises us when it is more advantageous to use one or the other. Additionally we purchase our natural gas in bulk from someone other the SCG. We are competing in an international business climate and on top of the fuel increases and on top of raw material increase we have to contend with some of the highest utility rates in the nation. This makes us less competitive going up against companies in other states never mind compared to overseas. One of our Stratford Connecticut bases suppliers closed their doors this past January – one of the primary reasons was the high utility rates cut their margins and they were unable to raise prices enough to survive.

As an Alderman in New Haven I meet people of all walks of life – rich, poor, middle class; black, white, Hispanic. Across the city folks from all walks of life - regardless of race or economic class – people are worried about paying their heating bills.

This all being said to then hear that SCG are overcharging us that is horrifying. People fear that they will not be able to pay their heating bills and SCG knowingly overcharges us.

I appreciate that the DPUC is holding this hearing, and hope that we can look at the underlying problem answering how & why this overcharging happened. I believe that the monthly bill we get from SGC in unnecessarily complex and most consumers have no idea as to what they are looking at.

I understand the need to maintain a strong public utility – but the utility should not be allowed to take advantage of the market.

We need to simplify the monthly billing statement. Take out the alphabet soup abbreviations. A simpler statement will enable the average consumer to review their bill and really comprehend what & why they are being charged and SCG will be less likely in the future to be able to overcharge.

In closing I ask that you the DPUC order SCG to refund us what they overcharged us with interest (as they charge people who are late in payment). Additionally I ask that this commission look into the possibility of lowering the current profit rate to something that is more bearable.

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