HARTFORD, Conn. (CBSNewYork) — There’s strong opposition from state officials and the public to Connecticut Light & Power’s request for a rate hike.

As WCBS 880 Connecticut Bureau Chief Fran Schneidau reported, ratepayers have turned up en masse at public hearings to oppose the proposal.

Drawing the most criticism is the utility’s plan to hike its monthly fixed charge — what consumers pay before they use a single kilowatt of electricity — from $16 to $25.50.

Connecticut Consumer Counsel Elin Katz said the $221 million rate hike would boost the cost of the average bill beyond the reach of many Connecticut residents.

“The company has an ability to demonstrate, because they’re a regulated monopoly, that the increase in their rates is … just and reasonable,” she said.

Katz is urging CL&P to accept the $115 million already approved for storm cost recovery.

“There’s certainly some amount that they’re entitled to, and some amount is preapproved,” Katz said. “We know there’s going to be some kind of increase, but we’re arguing for a substantial reduction.”

CL&P says the increased funding will help shore up the system and provide better reliability during the storms ahead.

A decision on the rate request, which must be approved by regulators, is expected early in December.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., wrote a letter in August to the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority voicing concerns about the proposed rate hike.

Blumenthal called CL&P’s request “unconscionable and unfair.” The senator wrote that Connecticut already pays among the highest electricity rates in the nation.

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