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AARP, Blumenthal Fight Proposed CL&P Rate Hike

HARTFORD, Conn. (CBSNewYork/AP) -- A fight is brewing over a request by Connecticut's largest utility to raise rates by $232 million to upgrade equipment following destructive storms.

As WCBS 880 Connecticut Bureau Chief Fran Schneidau reported, Connecticut Light & Power is seeking permission from regulators to raise the fixed monthly residential service charge from $16 to $25.50 -- a 56 percent hike.

If approved, it could take effect by the end of the year.

AARP, Blumenthal Fight Proposed CL&P Rate Hike

Consumer advocates say the increase would threaten efforts to conserve electricity.

"Before you turn on a single light in your home, your bill will go up $115 a year," John Erlingheuser of the AARP told Schneidau.

"It puts older people and disabled people in a very bad position because they may be in a position to try to conserve more when it won't actually help, and could put their health and safety at risk," he added.

CL&P, a subsidiary of Northeast Utilities, says about $117 million would pay for new and stronger poles, wires, transformers and substation upgrades.

Another $89.5 million is to repair damage from storms in 2011 and 2012, and $25.3 million is to protect equipment from future storms.

CL&P said energy efficiency is part of the reason billed revenue per customer has diminished.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., has written a letter to the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority voicing concerns about the proposed rate hike, CBS Connecticut reported.

Blumenthal calls CL&P's request "unconscionable and unfair." The senator wrote that Connecticut already pays among the highest electricity rates in the nation.

The first of three public hearings is scheduled for Wednesday. A draft decision is expected in December.

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(TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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