Eversource and united illuminating, Connecticut’s investor-owned electric utilities, informed state regulators last week that the rates their customers pay for electricity generation in early next year would jump by around 50%. That means for the average UI customer, the cost of electricity will rise by around $79 per month.

The increase in electricity costs is due to the rising cost of natural gas. New England states rely heavily on this fuel and its price has risen due to the Russian war in Ukraine.

Both utilities have a plan to reduce the impact of the hike, however it’s a lengthy process. They are planning to offer discounts to people who have less than the median income of the state, which is about $76,465 annually for a four-person family. They will also offer discounts on energy-efficiency measures as well as heating services for homes, such as furnace replacements or air conditioning upgrades.

But implementing those discounted rates will take time, since the utilities must figure out the details of billing and proving the amount of income they receive from their customers. They will also have to implement a program to help low-income households make improvements to their homes’ energy efficiency.

The utilities have extensive experience managing these programs, but they will need to cooperate closely with the Department of Social Services of the state to determine the income of their customers. The utility regulator PURA warned that utilities could be fined for failing to comply to the state’s requirements and taking too long to reach residents after and during the Tropical Storm Isaias of 2020.

To qualify for the discount, UI and Eversource will require to be aware of their customers and be able to verify that they have applied for assistance or received an income-based discount on other government benefits such as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or Medicaid. This is the reason PURA has requested that the utilities work with the social services departments and human resources.

PURA hopes that the state will share the information with utilities in order to accelerate the process. The utilities haven’t provided a detailed explanation of how the system works, however, a spokesperson stated that it can only be done when they have access to the Department of Social Services or other agencies.

Switching suppliers for the electric portion of your bill is the best option to avoid a huge rate increase. There are many providers to choose between which include small local companies and national brands like Constellation or Direct Energy. Verde Energy is one of the few providers that offer 100 renewable energy plans. Enter your zip code to browse through offers and select the best one for you. Click to switch providers once you’ve found a plan that you like. The new provider will begin to charge within one or two billing cycles. You will continue to receive delivery charges from UI. These are shown in the lower portion of your monthly statement.