5. A Shock For The New Year

The miracle of falling natural gas prices will look more like a mirage starting next month when many Connecticut electric ratepayers get their bills. Prices for Connecticut Light & Power's residential power customers will spike by 12 percent as of Jan 1, reversing years of progress. Back when CL&P's rate peaked at more than 20 cents per kilowatt hour five years ago, it was hard to argue against critics who said the industry restructuring had been a failure. We were supposed to pay less for electricity because independent generators would compete, and that didn't exactly happen. But from 2010 to 2013, prices did fall, by about 20 percent. The new hike is caused not by lack of competition but by rising natural gas prices. How can that be? Pipeline capacity into Connecticut ¿ something Malloy and his energy chief, Dan Esty, are working hard to fix. Until they do, or if natural gas prices jump for other reasons, the state's rising dependence on the airy fuel will seem less promising. CAPTION: The Middletown NRG electric generating plant.
Tony Bacewicz / Hartford Courant
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