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BBB Warns: Rates Spike with Some CT Electricity Suppliers

The Connecticut Attorney General’s office and the Office of Consumer Counsel say some consumers have been hit with a $100 a month increase compared to the standard rate.

Some Have Seen Their Winter Utility Bills Skyrocket

Better Business Bureau is urging Connecticut consumers to understand what they are getting into before switching electricity suppliers.

State utility regulators are preparing for a series of public hearings between February 19th and March 3, 2014, on the heels of a spike in complaints to the government about a jump in consumers’ electricity rates.

The Connecticut Attorney General’s office and the Office of Consumer Counsel say some consumers have been hit with a $100 a month increase compared to the standard rate.  Last month, Connecticut Light and Power/United Illuminating offered rates of approximately 9 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh), as compared to as much as almost 25 cents per kWh charged by other suppliers.

Consumers may choose from a variety of suppliers that offer different electricity rates, and compare them online at ctenergyinfo.com.   Suppliers may offer a fixed rate for a predetermined period, or variable rates.  Some suppliers may offer attractive introductory rates, and consequently increase them considerably without warning.

Connecticut consumers can prevent energy price spikes and save money on electricity by following these tips:

Fixed or variable – If you opt for a fixed rate supplier, find out how long the rate is guaranteed and what penalties are imposed for early termination.  If you opt for a variable rate, that rate may suddenly jump, so check your statements monthly and call your supplier if you have any questions.

File a complaint - If you feel you were misled about price, terms or conditions, file a complaint at www.ct.bbb.org and through the Connecticut Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA) at 800-382-4586.

Avoid peak hours – Rates rise and fall according to daily demand.  Peak hours are generally from 6:00 to 10:00 am, and between 3:00 pm and 9:00 pm.  Check with your supplier for details and whether “off peak” rates apply on weekends.

Unplug the parasites – Many appliances drain electricity even though they may not be turned on or on standby, including computers, televisions and power supplies for chargers, printers and any other appliance or gadget that uses a plug-in transformer.  Plug these into a power bar and shut them down when you have finished using them.

Other tips - Close curtains over windows at night to prevent warm air leakage. If you haven’t already, switch over to energy-efficient light bulbs, turn down your water heater temperature, and drop the thermostat a few degrees during peak periods and in empty rooms.

The Department of Energy (DOE) has a free, comprehensive guide with tips to bring down energy bills.

-Submitted by Howard Schwartz, Executive Communications Director, Connecticut Better Business Bureau

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