1/1/2006 Starting today most Connecticut residents
will have to pay 17 percent more to light up their homes.
Come spring, rates will jump further, with the average
monthly household bill topping $127 - a 22.4 percent
increase over last year.
One hundred miles up the Connecticut River, it's
an entirely different situation.
As it stands now, customers of Central Vermont Public
Service will be paying the lowest rates in the region
in 2006: About $91 a month, 28 percent less than Connecticut
They are the only ones in New England not facing
a rate increase from a dominant utility.
The sharp contrast between Connecticut and Vermont
- and the significant differences in rates across
New England - raises questions about why prices vary
so much in a relatively small geographic region.
As it happens, Vermont is the only state in New England
to still have a fully regulated market.
But the regulatory structure of the industry is only
one of the many variables that determine electricity
rates. Other factors - including the ability to hedge
against rising costs, the fuel mix used to supply
power, demand levels, the quality of the infrastructure
used to transmit power and the cost to distribute
electricity - all bear on the price of keeping the
Further complicating the picture, rates change at
different times, and with different magnitudes, from
utility to utility within New England. Vermont's electric
rates look attractive today, because the rest of New
England is paying so much more. But that wasn't always
the case and may not be in years to come.
"Five years ago, it would have been a completely
different story," said Steve Costello, a spokesperson
for Central Vermont Public Service. "We would
have been the ones with the higher rates."
In fact, from 2000 to 2004, Vermont's electric rates
were consistently higher than Connecticut's, according
to data from the states' dominant utilities. In 2000,
Vermont residents paid 12.5 cents per kilowatt-hour
- the units in which electricity prices are measured
- to power their homes. That price was 34 percent
higher than Connecticut's electricity rates at the
time, and 52 percent above the rest of the nation's,
according to the U.S. Department of Energy.
Fast forward six years, and Connecticut and other
New England households are seeing a rapid rise in
their electric rates, while the bills in Vermont remain
One reason: Long-term power contracts signed in the
1980s and 1990s that allowed Vermont's electric utilities
to lock in power at fixed rates through the next decade.
Those contracts - with Hydro-Quebec and the Vermont
Yankee nuclear plant - protect Vermont residents against
rising electricity prices, a practice known as hedging.
Many utilities - regulated or not - shy away from
such long-term deals. While the hedges look attractive
now, the 20-year agreements could again backfire if
market rates fall back below the levels fixed in the
"We could look like dogs again," said Bob
Rogan, spokesperson for Green Mountain Power, a Vermont
utility which has locked in power with Hydro-Quebec
through 2015. "I doubt it, but it remains to
While Vermont's utilities are confident that the
power companies they have contracted with will continue
to honor their commitments at what are now below-market
prices, that isn't always the case. One California-based
provider is attempting in bankruptcy court to ditch
eight electric contracts nationwide because it is
losing money on those agreements.
To add to the mix, not all utility companies can
lock in rates for a long period. Electricity demand
in New England's more populous and industrious states,
including Connecticut and Massachusetts, outstrips
power providers' willingness to promise supplies,
and by extension, lock in prices.
For example, when Connecticut Light & Power -
which serves about 1.2 million customers - tried to
secure a long-term power supply from merchant generators
two years ago, it was only able to lock in one third
of its 2006 electricity needs. By contrast, United
Illuminating, which serves about 320,000 Connecticut
customers, was able to lock in all power through the
end of 2006.
"UI is a tiny little company. They found one
supplier who could supply all of their needs for three
years," said Beryl Lyons, spokesperson at the
Connecticut Department of Public Utility Control.
"CL&P is the single largest utility in New
England. Nobody could meet their entire needs."
New England's less populated states, including Rhode
Island and Maine, have had more success in securing
their power needs for longer periods. Rhode Island's
largest utility, National Grid, has locked in electricity
through 2009, but with triggers built in for the power
suppliers to increase rates if costs rise above certain
levels. Central Maine Power, meanwhile, has laddered
its purchases so that two-thirds of the following
year's needs are already covered, buffering the impact
of rate spikes in any given year.
Because of those contracts, Rhode Island residents
will face just a 14.7 percent increase starting today,
while Maine ratepayers will pay only 9 percent more
for their electricity beginning in March, a rate increase
that was approved last week.
Beyond the varying abilities of the different states
to hedge their costs is the fact that Connecticut
and parts of Massachusetts have an aging infrastructure
that makes it difficult for the states to transmit
power efficiently across the region. Regulators have
slapped congestion charges on customers to make them
pay for that inefficiency.
Yet another big difference between Vermont and the
rest of New England is fuel mix. While about 40 percent
of New England's electricity comes from burning natural
gas, and another 17 percent from oil, only 3 percent
of Vermont's electricity relies on oil and natural
In Vermont's regulated market, the independence from
fossil fuels makes a big difference. The relatively
low price of electricity made by nuclear and hyrdo-power
is blended in with the higher price of power generated
from fossil fuels and other sources, resulting in
an overall price somewhere in between.
In New England's deregulated markets, the price of
electricity is set at a single level, regardless of
whether it's produced by nuclear, hydro, fossil fuel
or alternative sources. Because natural gas fuels
about 40 percent of the region's electric supply,
natural gas prices tend to set the region's electricity
price. And the price of natural gas - up by nearly
90 percent on the year -- has skyrocketed.
"The real villain is the cost of natural gas,"
said Robert Knickerbocker, a retired partner with
Day, Berry & Howard, who specialized in energy
issues and represented Connecticut Light & Power.
"And maybe, if there had not been deregulation,
the utilities might have tried to diversify the fuel
sources a bit."
While Connecticut consumers will feel the pinch of
double-digit rate increases immediately, sometimes
not raising rates can be more painful in the long
run. Because Central Vermont Public Service has not
been able to raise electricity rates since 2001, a
credit rating agency downgraded the utility's bonds
this summer to junk status on the fear that it could
not keep up with the increasing costs of maintaining
its transmission and distribution lines.
Because of the downgrade, the utility had to set
aside extra cash as collateral for some of its power
supply agreements, suspend investments in wind power
and pay higher interest rates on its debt - all of
which lead, ultimately, to higher costs for consumers.
Rowlands Fate sits in a judges hand
Governor Rowland Resigns
The Associated Press
Updated: 9:38 p.m. ET June 21, 2004 HARTFORD, Conn.
- Gov. John G. Rowland announced his
resignation Monday amid a months-long cascade of graft
allegations, a federal investigation and a rapidly
gathering drive to impeach him for accepting gifts
from friends and businessmen.
Rowland did not directly address the
allegations against him but said he remained proud
of his accomplishments.
**Well Gov. Rowland waited until
the last moment when the Supreme court ruled he could
be compelled to testify before the committee whom
was in its third week of hearings. Real stand-up guy.
He didn`t even fess up just acted as if this was all
an unfortunate situation in his life and now he needs
to find a new path. Read his Resignations speech below.
And Below that is a an article and commentory from
March 2004. -Kevin Beary
Rowland's Resignation Address
June 21 2004
Good evening and thank you for
joining us this evening.
As you know, Patty and I have
made a decision that we believe is not only in the
best interest of our family, but in the best interest
of the State of Connecticut as well.
The months leading to this
decision have been difficult for all of us.
Effective at noon on July 1st,
I will officially step down as Governor and pass this
honor to Lt. Governor Jodi Rell, who is a very fine,
capable and experienced public servant.
She shares many of the hopes
and dreams that brought this administration to a third
term, and I know you will work with her during this
Tonight is both a beginning
and an end for me.
I first ran for public office
24 years ago because I learned at the kitchen table
in the Rowland household that you should always try
to give something back to the community - whether
it was volunteer service, being active in your school,
or running for public office.
I am thankful to my family
for instilling in me the principle that public service
to others is a noble cause.
My political journey has brought
me from the Connecticut State House, to the United
States Congress and to the Governor's Office.
It has been an incredible,
fulfilling journey - with a simple goal . . . to help
and serve the people of Connecticut.
And it is the people of Connecticut
that I thank for giving me this privilege.
Throughout these years I have
never forgotten what the people of Connecticut have
given me. I can only hope that when all is said and
done - when the dust settles and time casts light
on our time in office - that the people will see what
I tried to give back.
Through times of prosperity
and times of recession, through times of tragedy and
times of celebration - we have made much progress
It has been an incredible honor
and I am pleased to have served you.
I am proud that there is new
life in our cities - especially in Hartford, Waterbury,
Bridgeport, New Haven, and New London. There is new
life, new business, and new opportunity.
What an enormous privilege
to work with so many outstanding mayors, business
people, local elected officials, clergy, volunteers
and not for profit agencies - all focused on making
their communities better - all striving to prove that
the good in society will prevail against the bad.
This has been my motivation
over the last 10 years - to lead this great state
to even greater expectations and to achieve our fullest
potential. And we are indeed on the right path.
I hope there have been times
when I made you all proud, or made you all smile,
or at least, piqued your interest in this wonderful
phenomenon called government.
It has been especially gratifying
to me to work with my colleagues in Connecticut state
Our constitutional officers,
the men and women of the state legislature, and all
the fine members of our judiciary - all from different
backgrounds, demographics and political parties -
working together for the betterment of our state.
I hope you take as much pride
as I do in all that we have accomplished.
The future may be a bit uncertain
for our family, but I do know that whatever the future
holds, I have been blessed with wonderful family and
Those of you who have had the
privilege to know my wife will understand why she
is the love of my life.
She has represented the office
of First Lady with grace and dignity, has stood by
my side with unfailing faith and love, and I am proud
of the good will and good works she has brought to
Patty and I, as well as our
children, are looking forward to a new chapter in
Even in these most difficult
times, I realize how fortunate my life has been.
I am truly thankful to all
of our staff members, our security detail, Commissioners,
and family and friends gathered with us today.
We have lived and worked together
over the past 10 years and we can never repay the
incredible loyalty, kindness, and dedicated work you
have brought to our family and this administration.
Patty and I would also like
to thank the thousands of people across our state
that have sent us countless letters of support, given
us words of encouragement, and prayed with us over
these past months and years.
Please know that your thoughts
and prayers have been a source of strength for all
An ancient proverb says:
"We make our plans, but the Lord determines our
There comes a time in everyone's
life when you realize that it is time to take a new
This is our time.
Thank you for the opportunity
to serve as your Governor.
God Bless you all, and God
Bless the great state of Connecticut.
March 18th 2004 - Another scandalous
moment for Governor Rowland.
How much more do we need to discover
to realize that Governor Rowland has been abusing
public office for personal gain and should be removed
from office. Personally, I wanted Governor Rowland
to win re-election because I did not want Curry in
office, who promised to kill the Hartford projects
including Adriens Landing and the convention center
currently being built. This was before I knew about
all the gifts, arrangements , backroom deals etc;
Below is a quick summary of various abuses of Rowland.
- Kevin Beary
Summary of selected (far from all)
1998 DEP selective enforcement. Appointee Vito Santosiero
quits DEP after charges surface. They say he "fixed"
environmental violations for those who gave, usually
through major campaign contributions.
1999 Paul Silvester. Rowland appoints him Treasurer
in '97, runs on ticket and raises funds with him in
'98. Then Silvester pleads guilty to money-laundering
and racketeering. The trials in this complex case
are just beginning again.
2001 Illegal payback to nursing homes bosses. Rowland
sends $30M to nursing homes, later ruled in court
as an illegal attempt to take away union rights. Nursing
home owners have been heavy Rowland contributors.
2001 Fired DEP whistleblower. Chief DEP Counsel Anne
Rapkin was too honest in her professional assessments
and was fired. CT has spent over $2M in litigation.
2001 Mark Trinkley. Former DECD official plead guilty
of taking $35,000 in home improvements in exchange
for awarding a $6.5M Connecticut grant to the same
2002 Enron and Peter Ellef. Rowland's Chief of Staff
resigned after losing $220M to Enron in an "illegal
loan". FBI is still investigating.
2003 Lawrence Alibozek. Former Deputy Chief of Staff
plead guilty of taking gold and cash for steering
big state contracts. $12,000 in gold dug up by investigators
in his backyard.
2003 Tomasso. Rowland grossly underpays for use of
Tomasso vacation estate. Tomasso gets over $217M in
state contracts since 1995. They include $1600 a month
to "cut grass and shovel snow" at State
Lottery headquarters, says George Wandrak, Lottery
Board Chair. (All Tomasso state contracts are under
federal investigation.) In a bid to the Naugatuck
Valley quasi-public development agency, Tomasso won
the contract even though they were the HIGHEST-paid
bidder, asking about a $5M fee. A second competent
company had figured in a $3.5M fee, while a third
gave themselves about $4M for the same work! Talk
about the cost of doing business.
2003 GOP Gold Card. CCAG asks the Election Enforcement
Commission to investigate after Rowland's illegal
personal use of GOP Gold Card comes to light. Their
investigation is still underway.
2003 Arthur Diedrick and Bob Matthews. Diedrick was
Rowland's Chair of the CT Development Authority, a
quasi-public agency like CRRA, where public money
makes the transition to private hands. In 1995, Diedrick
awarded his own company a $300,000 contract. Cooler
heads later re-bid it. Rowland moved him to a like
agency, CT Innovations. Now it becomes public that
Diedrick's wife invested in a company, Pinnacle Food,
that Diedrick's new agency was considering for a big
low-interest loan of your money. Shadowy friend Bob
Matthews, a professional political buddy and donor,
had a fat contract riding on Pinnacle getting the
loan and coming to CT. He was also a major shareholder.
He had his buddy John call Pinnacle from the golf
course to express his "support" for the
loan. Alas, the deal fell apart because Pinnacle found
even sweeter meat elsewhere. By the way, appointee
Diedrick is also President of a local land trust,
which, under his leadership, conveyed a North Litchfield
lakefront house to John Rowland for $105,000. Gee,
do you think it ever went on the market? As if that
weren't smelly enough, the land trust loaned John
the money to close the contract!
The Rowland Administration is the most consistently
corrupt in the country. Let's demand that it be held
Finally , something happening in Hartford, maybe the
city will finally wake up. Going to Hartford on a Sunday
when everything is closed has become depressing - Click