State Rejects CNG Request To Increase Rates, Orders Revenue Cut Instead

The Hartford Courant

State regulators have rejected a request from Connecticut Natural Gas that might have raised customers' rates by 1.9 percent.

In a decision issued Monday, the state Department of Public Utility Control said it would instead cut CNG's revenues by $16.8 million, or 4.3 percent. The company originally had asked to increase its revenues by $16.4 million but later lowered that request to $7.4 million because of falling natural gas prices.

The agency's decision falls short of a recommendation by the state Office of Consumer Counsel to reduce CNG's revenues by $19.2 million. But Consumer Counsel Mary Healey said Monday that she's still "pleased" with the decision, which she said "appropriately controls CNG's spending, especially during this economic downfall when ratepayers are struggling to pay their bills."

Monday's decision stems largely from at least $14 million in unapproved earnings the company made over 12 months ending last year. CNG had been approved to earn profits not exceeding 10.1 percent, but it instead earned a profit of more than 14 percent, according to Healey's office.

The company has said the over-earnings were the result of lower natural gas prices and operation and maintenance expenses.

Robert Allessio, CNG's president and chief executive officer, said Monday that the DPUC's decision would "make it even more difficult for CNG to attract capital in these challenging economic times and will in turn force CNG to significantly reduce expenditures and employees."

In the decision issued Monday, regulators ordered the company not to earn profits exceeding 8.93 percent. Regulators are expected to make a final decision on the rates June 30. The new rates will become effective in July.

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