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United Illuminating seeks 8% rate increase over a 3-year period

The utility company plans on filing its request with the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority within the next two to three months.

CONNECTICUT, USA — United Illuminating is seeking an eight-percent rate increase over a three-year period. 

The utility company plans on filing its request within the next two to three months. 

If UI's request is approved by the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority, the new rates would begin showing up on customers' bills after September 2023. 

UI serves over 300,000 customers in the Bridgeport and New Haven areas. 

RELATED: Connecticut utility customers to see supply rate changes come July 1: Regulators

Corporate Communications Manager Gage Frank said their distribution rate was last set in 2016 and have not increased since then. 

With inflation taken into account, the cost of doing business has increased over seven-percent, according to Frank. 

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In a statement to FOX61, he said: 

"UI’s anticipated rate application will enable UI to build a stronger, smarter and more resilient grid, focused on maintaining reliability and strengthening the resiliency of the system to meet customer needs and evolving expectations.  Our goal in this rate case is to spread the proposed total rate increase over three years at an average total bill increase of approximately 5% per year across all rate classes, which represents an increase that is less than the current rate of inflation." 

For the average customer with a bill of $188 for example, will see an increase of $9.69. 

RELATED: State regulators finalize fines for utilities over Isaias response

Attorney General William Tong calling the increase "bad timing." 

 "Eight-percent in my view is too much, is too high and we’re going to scrutinize every basis for this request and every charge, every cost, every claimed expense," said Tong. 

Tong pointed to inflation and COVID-19 as struggles many people still go through. 

 "We’re still in the middle of a global pandemic. We’re not out of it yet. The economic effects of the pandemic are still being felt by all Connecticut families," added Tong. 

The effects have trickled down to the desk of Brenda Watson with Operation Fuel out of Hartford, an organization aimed at helping families struggling to pay energy and utility bills. 

"So far, we have nearly a thousand applications in our system since we opened on July 5th. I’ve never seen it this high," said Watson, executive director of Operation Fuel. 

Watson said she expects even more applications if PURA approves the rate increase. 

RELATED: AG Tong announces amended settlement to lower UI customers' summer rates

In the meantime, she offered these money saving tips for customers. 

"Remember to unplug chargers if you’re not charging any of your devices. In the daytime, you can keep your blinds or curtains closed to prevent solar heat from getting in and making your indoor environment a lot hotter and try to wait the evening hours to utilize your air conditioning systems," added Watson. 

If PURA does approve the rate increase that is set to take effect next year, Attorney General Tong urged customers to reach out to his office if extra charges are seen on their bill. Customers can also contact PURA directly or the Office of Consumer Counsel. 

Operation Fuel is currently taking applications for anyone who needs assistance. Their deadline to apply is October 27. They do offer assistance year-round as well. 

To see if you qualify for assistance and to file an application, click here

Carmen Chau is an anchor and reporter at FOX61 News. She can be reached at cchau@fox61.com. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

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