Electric rates trending down

At least for now, the trend in electric rates is favorable to consumers in Connecticut. Average monthly electric bills for standard service from CL&P will go down $9.39 next year. For UI customers, the drop will be $13.96.

The Public Utilities Regulatory Authority on Thursday finalized rates that will mean savings for the second consecutive year, putting a welcome dent in rates that used to be the highest in the continental U.S.

Ask why, and you will get an answer worthy of a doctoral thesis in economics.

The simplest of answers is that natural gas is cheap, and much of the electricity generated here relies on gas. Generation costs account for about half a typical electric bill.

From there, things get complicated.

Other cost factors include “congestion charges,” which are a reflection of how efficient or inefficient is the state’s transmission infrastructure, and how the state structures contracts for the supply of power.

Fifty-three percent of state residents get their power through the two major utilities on a standard services contract, while others sign up with other suppliers.