It was almost Christmas Eve when Public Utilities Fortnightly visited Connecticut’s capital to talk shop with the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority. Stockings hung from many of the cubicles where PURA Staff toiled to put the finishing touches on open dockets, to ensure it would be happy holidays for all in the Nutmeg State. No coal in those stockings methinks. Somewhere, perhaps in New Haven or Bridgeport, Santa was busy too, readying his electric sleigh for the midnight trip to every chimney; the reindeer no longer required, replaced by lithium-ion batteries. Might Santa be next, rendered unnecessary once the autonomous sleigh becomes available?
Connecticut PURA Chair Katie Scharf Dykes
(Just promoted to the commissioner of the larger agency that includes PURA)
“With respect to the regulation of the electric distribution utilities, of which we have two, you get a rate case every three to four years and then it’s all hands-on deck. Something that I’ve found useful is trying to anticipate what are going to be the major policy issues that are going to come up in a rate case and initiating generic dockets and investigations when you’re in between rate cases. We have one of the shorter statutory deadlines for full rate case litigation. If you have vetted major policy issues in a generic proceeding or investigation, then when it comes to the rate case, there may be a formula or at least an understanding among the parties of how the issue will be incorporated. That allows the rate case to focus on the traditional issues and you’re not giving short shrift to broader policy concerns. It also helps to ensure that those inter-rate case intervals are productive and setting the course.”
Connecticut PURA Vice Chair Jack Betkoski (now Acting Chair)
“My goal is consumer education, that we get out there to educate, so it’s accepted as to what we’re doing. As Chair Dykes said, we see billions of dollars in revenues come through here that the ratepayers are paying for. We have an obligation to talk about our process. So that is number one.
Number two is to work with the Chair and Commissioner Caron on grid modernization because it’s the future. We’re going to have some challenges. We can’t be doing business the same way we’ve been doing it for over a hundred years.
Finally, it’s the passage of the state water plan at the legislature and the implementation statewide. I am very passionate about that.”
Connecticut PURA Commissioner Michael Caron (now Acting Vice Chair)
“It was a relatively quiet little backwater, with not much excitement until there was this thing called the polar vortex. Once that hit, people were on all these variable rates. The companies just passed through volatile increased charges, and consumers were getting hit with three hundred dollar bill increases.
It was not the whole eastern seaboard. But certainly the northern part. So, we opened a docket, and it was mine. From there we just started finding all these issues with how the market regulated itself. It wasn’t very transparent.
There were a lot of people who were in this market who shouldn’t have been in this market. Which is why I say it’s not for everybody. If you’re clipping coupons and looking for the cheapest gas in town, you can save some money in this market. If not, you could really overpay if you’re not paying attention. You must be an active consumer.”