Murphy asks PURA to investigate increase in Eversource shutoffs

By:  Howard French
Journal Inquirer

The number of Eversource Energy customers whose electricity has been shut off due to nonpayment has soared by more than 82 percent in only two years, statistics from the state Public Utilities Regulatory Authority show.

PURA said Eversource made 28,851 disconnections in 2015 and 52,298 disconnections in 2017.

Sen. Christopher Murphy, D-Conn., has asked Eversource to explain the surge and also asked PURA to look into the unusually large jump in service cuts.

Connecticut’s economy has improved from 2015 to 2017, Murphy said, and over that same period, “wholesale energy prices have remained at their lowest levels since the beginning of the century.”

Murphy called the increase in shutoffs “alarming,” adding he is concerned that Eversource “may not being doing enough outreach to their low-income customers.”

Eversource spokesman Mitch Gross said Friday the utility disagrees with Murphy’s comments about a lack of outreach.

Eversource provides customers with a “significant amount of information about the variety of programs that can help them,” Gross said. The utility seeks to inform its customers through social media, its website, and news releases, he said.

“We always suggest customers call us immediately if they’re having difficulty paying their bill so we can work with them,” Gross added.

Eversource also regularly recommends that customers take advantage of energy-efficiency options available to help lower overall energy use.

“Unfortunately, energy costs remain high, not just in Connecticut but throughout New England,” he said.

Gross added: “While shutting off any customer is a last resort, unpaid bills drive up costs for everyone else.”