Editorial: The Debate Over Energy

Editorial: The Debate Over Energy

Everything costs more these days.

That’s something anyone with a home to heat or a mouth to feed will attest to. Your bill at the grocery store, at the gas station, and from your home heating provider has gone up dramatically over the last year-plus. But nowhere has the increase been more pronounced than in the cost of electricity.

Since the beginning of the year, utility companies Eversource and United Illuminating have doubled the cost to light up one’s home. The cost to purchase natural gas has skyrocketed for them, and they’ve in turn passed that cost on to consumers. For some, this is a minor inconvenience. For others, it means making difficult choices about what can and cannot be afforded month to month.

In this week’s Herald, we have a piece from State Rep. Liz Linehan (D-103), who is organizing an “Energy 101” event at Town Hall for next week. The topic? The reasons for the rising costs, what we can expect in the coming months, and how homeowners can ease the pain of the current rate hikes. Linehan teases many of the topics that will be covered, but the event itself promises to go over this important topic in detail, as well as provide attendees with information to take home and use at their convenience.

Kudos to Linehan and those joining her — State Rep. Jack Fazzino (D-83), State Sen. Jan Hochadel (D-13), representatives from PURA, Energize CT, and more — for holding this event. There are options available to Connecticut residents of which they likely are unaware. For instance, while Eversource and United Illuminating remain the de facto energy providers, homeowners can apply for a third-party supplier, many of whom have lower rates than either of the “big two” in Connecticut. There are also energy assistance programs that will help cover costs for those in the most need.

If you’re struggling to pay your new energy bill, this event seems like a must-attend.

But of course, all of this is simply a Band-Aid on a bigger issue. While the rate hikes seen over the last few months are being driven primarily by factors outside of anyone’s control — the war in Ukraine is likely having the biggest influence — there have been and continue to be issues with the state utility companies that need to be addressed.

Energy is not like cellular service or internet providers, where consumers can easily navigate between competing price packages and choose which one is right for them. While there are third-party options for energy providers, it can be a difficult application and approval process with limited options. And in the end, Eversource and United Illuminating are still responsible for the infrastructure that delivers the electricity to your homes.

Of course, the biggest difference is the need. Electricity isn’t something one can do without for a time. While being without cellular service or even internet access for a time would be wildly inconvenient in modern-day America, being without electricity could potentially put lives at risk. So the state has an added responsibility to ensure that electricity is delivered in an efficient and cost-effective manner to all residents, in a way they do not when it comes to most other goods and services.

Over recent years, consumers have seen price hikes and numerous widespread power outages. It has sparked a conversation about the reliability of our electrical grid, the affordability of Connecticut electricity in general, and how much control the state should have over these important issues.

The meeting next week will provide some practical advice for residents and, hopefully, help Cheshire residents save money. But the bigger, long-term discussions still need to be had. Eventually, prices will come down. But many of the problems with how state residents receive their electricity will remain.


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