Word this morning is that Dan Esty, the Commissioner of the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, has reversed his earlier decision to end Connecticut’s popular consumer utility hotline.
Layoff notices to the hotline's staff have apparently been rescinded – just a week before the hotline was scheduled to be eliminated.
Although the hotline is paid for by a surcharge on the utility companies, the Malloy Administration had decided to layoff the 14 employees who worked on the hotline.
The proposed cut was NOT part of Governor Malloy’s Plan B Budget (the plan that he was implementing in response to the initial failure of the Malloy/SEBAC Concession Agreement).
Rather it was a budget cut made in response to the Legislature’s decision to support Malloy’s merger and cut to what were the energy and environment departments.
Opposition to the decision to eliminate the hotline included strong statements from the co-chairs of the General Assembly’s energy committee. State Senator John Fonfara and State Representative Vickie Nardello wrote to the Malloy Administration "asking that the decision be scrapped and the unit be allowed to continue to do its good work.”
State Consumer Counsel Mary Healey also weighed in telling the Hartford Courant "elimination of the entire consumer services unit is a concern for me as a ratepayer advocate because I am not clear as to who [consumers] will be directed to when they are directed on their utility bills to a number that sends them to the consumer service unit."
Last year 45,000 consumer calls and complaints were handled by the consumer hotline.
If the news is accurate, it is good news for Connecticut's utility consumers.