Connecticut seniors, according to a new poll by AARP, oppose a controversial plan that would completely deregulate electric markets in Connecticut.
AARP said Thursday that its recent poll showed that seven out of 10 seniors oppose the plan which includes forcing the 800,000 residential and commercial customers who now purchase their electricity from CL&P and UI to purchase from independent energy suppliers. About half of the state’s customers get their electricity from CL&P and UI and their rates – called the Standard Offer -are set by the state. The companies are not permitted to make a profit on the Standard Offer.
The plan by the Malloy Administration would auction off the customers to the energy suppliers without giving the customers a choice as to where they would purchase their electricity.
The plan would raise about $80 million to help the state budget and is now under consideration in the General Assembly.
Proponents say the plan not only will raise money for the state but will end up saving customers money as competition would drive down prices.
AARP says the proposal is “ill-conceived” and would result in higher electric prices for many seniors.
“According to the survey, nearly seven out of ten (69%) of older residents said they are concerned about rising electricity rates. “Some may think seniors have a short memory but they have not forgotten the electricity price spikes of just a few years ago,” said John Erlingheuser, AARP’s Advocacy Director for Connecticut. “Older residents overwhelmingly oppose efforts by the state to auction away their choice of affordable electric plans and to require higher “peak use” rates for residential customers.”
In addition to questions about the energy auction, the survey also asked older registered voters for their opinions about the current Standard Plan option for electricity and proposals being considered that would require mandatory “time of day” or “peak use” rate plans for residential customers. The AARP said its survey found that:
“Four out of five residents believe that offering a Standard Plan is an important way to help keep electricity costs down and support the state continuing to require electric companies to provide a standard offer plan.”
“Six out of ten Connecticut registered voters age 50+ oppose making “time-of-day” or “peak use” rate pricing plans mandatory.”
According to AARP’s Erlingheuser, mandating “time of day” or “peak use” rate plans for residential customers “would result in higher rates for those who are unable to shift their energy needs to off-peak hours, such as seniors and those who work from home.”
“People living on low or fixed incomes are particularly vulnerable to high utility costs and are often forced to reduce expenditures on other basic needs, including food and medicine, or to reduce their levels of heating and cooling beyond safe levels if they cannot afford their utility bills. While conservation is a laudable goal, punishing those who are least able to take advantage of savings, and least able to afford higher rates, is bad public policy,” Erlingheuser said.
Poll results are based on a telephone survey of 800 Connecticut residents age 50+ who are registered to vote. The survey was conducted between March 20 and March 30, 2013 and has a sampling error of ±3.5 percent.
View the full survey report at www.aarp.org/ct.
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