Lawsuit challenges surcharge on ratepayers

HARTFORD CONNECTICUT - State Sen. Joe Markley calls a new surcharge on ratepayers' bills "a sneaky trick played on utility customers," which is why he personally filed a lawsuit challenging its validity.

The surcharge, a tax on electric ratepayers, was approved last year by the governor and lawmakers. The tax adds about $3.50 per month to an average household's electric bill. Connecticut Light & Power customers began paying the additional tax January 1. United Illuminating customers will see the tax appear on their electric bills later this year.

Markley, a Southington Republican, says the tax is illegal. The tax replaces a surcharge that was put in place a decade ago to pay back bonds that were used to reimburse Northeast Utilities for the value of generating plants that the company lost when electric restructuring forced the company out of the generation business. That surcharge expired at the end of 2010, when the money was paid back.

If the tax had not been added, the average CL&P ratepayer would have seen their electric bills decrease by 9 percent or 10 percent.

Markley is getting his day in court, as the case is being heard before the State Supreme Court in Hartford.

"The tax is unfair for two reasons," Markley has said. "It is levied by a state agency, which doesn't have the authority to do so and there are six towns that would be exempt from paying the tax."

The exempt towns are Wallingford, Norwich, Bozrah, Groton, Norwalk and Lebanon.


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