Happy New Year! That’ll be $15.64!

This is the season of lights, when the halls and malls are decked out with thousands of gleaming, glittering, blinking bulbs. And as we do every holiday season, we will enjoy it while we can. Then January will come, and the lights will slowly fade.

But the lights may get dimmer than usual this time, because Connecticut Light & Power Co. will be hiking the price of electricity on Jan. 1, and that’s going to cost the typical residential customer an estimated $15.64 per month. You see, the cost of power is going up from 7.6 cents per kWh (kilowatt hour) to 9.2 cents, for those who buy both their power and their “delivery services” from CL&P.

(The Wallingford Electric Division historically has charged its customers less for power than CL&P. However, a developing legal conflict with the Connecticut Municipal Energy and Electric Cooperative could affect the division’s balace sheet down the road, and therefore could eventually affect rates.)

As for CL&P customers, state Consumer Counsel Elin Swanson Katz suggests that they consider switching to a competitive electric supplier if they can find one with a lower rate than 9.2 cents. She cautions, however, that taking on a variable rate could make for an unpleasant surprise later on.

Katz says that state officials at every level are working to lower costs, and that there is still an overall trend of lower energy prices. “The electric price increase is largely due to rising demand for natural gas, which is used for both heating and the generation of electricity,” she explained.

Fortunately, the price hike for the first half of 2014 should be tempered by a price drop in July. Meanwhile, Katz said, the New England states are planning to build more pipelines to bring in more gas, and thus keep prices down for both electricity and home heating.

“But pipelines take years to build.”

Meanwhile, the best we can do is to grin and bear it — and turn off that light!

Customers can use tools like the CT Energy Info website (http://www.ctenergyinfo.com/compare-energy-suppliers/2014-generation-rates/) or speak with an energy professional at Connecticut’s toll-free Energy Information Line at 1-877-WISE-USE.



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