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Utilities Regulation in Connecticut: An AARP Survey of Connecticut Residents Age 50+

In 1998, Connecticut began to deregulate the electric industry with the goal of encouraging competition. At the time, it was anticipated that competition would be robust, resulting in significantly lower prices for both businesses and individual ratepayers. However, competition for the residential electric market has not been realized and the state is now faced with deciding how to proceed.

The vast majority of Connecticut residents age 50+ say they would support a change in the law that would require the state government to set stable, affordable rates based on cost and reasonable profits for utilities, even if it meant less opportunity to choose their electric utility provider. When asked whether it was more important to them to have electric rates regulated by the state or have the option of selecting their electric company, the majority say it is more important to them to have electric rates regulated by the state.

If electric utility rates were to rise, 34 percent would be unable to lower their usage at all and an additional 58 percent would only be able to reduce usage slightly. Having stable electric rates - not varying from month-to-month - was an important factor for an overwhelming 87 percent.

There was also overwhelming 84 percent support for creation of an electric assistance program to help low-income households. Over 80 percent supported funding such a program by all rate-payers, including businesses and commercial users.

This random telephone survey of 812 age 50+ Connecticut residents was conducted between January 30 and February 14, 2003, and the report prepared by Katherine Bridges of AARP Knowledge Management who may be contacted for further information at 202-434-6329. (20 pages)

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