New Haven Connecticut
New Haven, Connecticut. (Photo: Farnsworth)

This past week, the State of Connecticut’s consumer counsel Elin Swanson Katz and a staff attorney from her office co-authored an op-ed in which they argued retail choice markets have failed Connecticut’s ratepayers, and that competitive markets can’t sustain energy innovation.

Katz announced her resignation from Connecticut’s consumer counsel effective July 5 only four days after the publication.

Katz’s criticism of Connecticut’s retail energy markets, not to mention her skepticism of competition’s influence on innovation, generated a backlash from the Retail Energy Supply Association (RESA). It issued a reply titled, “Data Proves Consumers Are Seeing the Benefits of the Retail Electric Supply Industry”.

In its response the association remains firm, championing the competitive retail market’s benefits to Connecticut.

“Two decades ago, the State of Connecticut gave customers the right to choose their electric providers so that they could have access to all the benefits retail suppliers offer. This research not only shows that the benefits are certainly there, but, most importantly, it shows that they are reaching the people they were designed to reach–residential customers.”Said Matt White, RESA’s president.

The group’s analysis of Intelometry, Inc. research about Connecticut rates revealed potential ratepayer savings in the retail electricity and natural gas markets:

  • January 2019: 70 offers below CT price-to-compare for a potential savings of $14.66 million
  • February 2019: 81 offers below CT price-to-compare for a potential savings of $19.27 million
  • March 2019: 105 offers below CT price-to-compare for a potential savings of $22.86 million

In addition, RESA pointed out that price isn’t the only metric by which to determine the value of competitive retail markets.

“From multi-year contracts that offer longer-term price stability, to smart thermostats and loyalty rewards, suppliers are routinely developing value-added products and services that allow customers to choose the products that meet their own individual needs,” White said. “And by offering low or no termination fees, retail electric suppliers also make it very easy for consumers to shop around for the product or service that works best for them.”

ECC President: Energy Users Deserve a Greater Say in Energy Policies

Robert Dillon, president of Energy Choice Coalition, told Energy Pages that the benefits of energy choice go beyond price, coinciding with trends toward a future powered by renewable energy.

“Energy users deserve a greater say in the energy policies that affect their communities, especially as the political debate over climate change and environmental regulations remain gridlocked,” Dillon said.

He added that while competitive markets allow consumers to choose their type of energy and where it comes from, government monopolies with set rates of returns restrict the flexibility to choose renewable and/or low-cost options.

“Most importantly, competitive markets allow consumers to decide where their energy comes from, including the ability to choose renewable energy. There is no such driver in monopoly markets, where the only determinant is the guaranteed rate of return set by government regulators. The only way to encourage cleaner energy options in a monopoly is to layer on government regulations and mandates.”Robert Dillon, president of Energy Choice Coalition said.

Layering on regulations is a “recipe for higher electricity prices and fewer choices,” he added.

Dillon said that, if given a choice to side with bureaucrats or consumers, he’s certain where his allegiance lies.

“If given a choice between betting on bureaucrats and consumers, I’ll take consumers every time,” he said.

Energy Pages is an online trade publication and business directory for the retail energy industry. We publish editorials, resources, case studies, practical information and industry news. Our content is about and for industry leaders, innovators, investors and influencers.

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