Legislators in the State House passed a bill last month that included a key change to how some consumers buy their electricity in Connecticut – eliminating the ability for customers to choose between Connecticut Light & Power and United Illuminating or a different provider.
A gaggle of consumers, producers, and state legislators gathered today at the State Capitol to drum up opposition to the bill in the State Senate. The group, including Democrat State Senator John Fonfara and GOP State Rep. Sean Williams, pointed to the growing number of Connecticut residents – nearly 150k – that have chosen providers other that CL&P or UI as evidence of the demand for choices.
After the Legislature did deregulation in 1998, Connecticut’s ratepayers have seen steep hikes in their utility bills, to the point that we now pay the second highest rates in the nation behind only Hawaii.
Proponents of the bill, like Democratic State Rep. Vickie Orsini Nardello, cite this reality as a prime reason for re-regulating the market. Rep. Nardello was at it again today, with a bill creating a quasi-public Connecticut Energy Authority on the Legislative Session’s ‘Go List’ for the day.
But the reality is that we got deregulation – one half of the free marketeers’ rallying cry – without getting the other half: real competition among providers. It is difficult to blame free markets for being the problem when there hasn’t been much of a market until recently – and now Rep. Nardello and others seek to kill it before it really gets going.
Instead, the Legislative Leaders seem eager to take the same path on electricity that they hope to take on health care: creation of a government program that will “compete” with the private sector, even though the public plan will have competitive advantages for which the private sector could only hope.
That disadvantage with then make possible the second step of the plan – complete state takeover. And then, just like that, your electricity and health care will now be brought to you by the same people who bring you the DMV.