A few years back the State of Connecticut adopted an electric deregulation law that promised competition and the possibility of reasonable rates. The opposite happened and this year rates for consumers, business and government are going up by more than 20 percent . This burden, combined with higher prices for gasoline, spells trouble for the economy, New Britain city finances and a lot of households in the city.

Late in 2005 The Department of Public Utility Control approved the 22.4 percent rate hikes because of the higher costs CT Light & Power now pays for generation of electricity. CL&P remains a distributor but not a generator and claims its hands are tied when it comes to the need for higher rates.

The state Legislature is considering legislation to maintain a regulated electric rate and to move away from total de-regulation. An end to de-regulation would lessen the economic hardships caused by the recently approved double-digit increases. It’s not clear the Legislature has the time in the 2006 session to enact meaningful rate controls on a statewide basis. New Britain and other municipalities, however, may act as “electric aggregators” by pooling the electric purchasing power of residents, businesses and government to negotiate lower-price electricity for all within the city borders.

New Britain Ward 2 City Alderman Adam Platosz, supported by Democratic Majority Leader Mike Trueworthy, is proposing that New Britain take advantage of the state law [General Statutes, Sections 16-245 and 16-245b] that allows a municipality to engage in bulk buying for lower rates.

In a City Council resolution this month, the Platosz proposal directs the City Finance Director to register the City of New Britain as a “municipal electric aggregator” by July 1st. If the State fails to amend the current deregulation law, requests would be made for proposals from companies to sell electricity to government, business and residents within the city. Making the city a bulk purchaser or “electric aggregator” has the potential to save city government hundreds of thousands of dollars, reducing the tax burden and controlling the costs of a necessity.

The Platosz’ proposal deserves bipartisan support because of the substantial savings that may become available if the city exercizes its “aggregator” option.