PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — A proposed hike in electric rates this fall has prompted Gov. Dan McKee to call on the R.I. Public Utilities Commission (PUC) to provide relief to Rhode Islanders.
Rhode Island Energy — previously known as National Grid — proposed a 47 percent rate increase last month. The company says the reason is because of ongoing market conditions driving up the price of electricity.
McKee on Monday filed public comment with the PUC asking them to suspend the customer charge on electric bills until next summer and suggested spreading the rate hike over 12 months.
The governor also asked the commission to give out the $32.5 million in electric ratepayer bill credits that were part of the state’s settlement with Rhode Island Energy’s parent company PPL.
“An increase of this magnitude has a potentially devastating impact on residential ratepayers,
particularly our most vulnerable populations, including low-income, the elderly and seriously ill
individuals,” McKee said Monday.
Rhode Island Energy proposed the temporary electric rate increase from Oct. 1, 2022, to March 31, 2023.
The new rate would be roughly 17.9 cents per kilowatt hour for residential customers, compared to last year’s rate of 10.9 cents per kilowatt hour, according to Rhode Island Energy.
The company said customers can expect to see their electricity bills go up by about $52 per month, based on an average use of 500 kilowatt hours of electricity used.
Rhode Island Energy said it doesn’t own the power plants that generate electricity. Customers have the option to choose their supplier, but if they do not, Rhode Island Energy delivers the supply to customers at cost without any profit.
In a statement to 12 News, Rhode Island Energy spokesperson Ted Kresse said that while the company shares McKee’s concerns about the impact of a rate hike on Rhode Islanders, the decision is driven by increased costs to provide the electricity.
“Although rates do temporarily increase every winter, the rates impacting all of New England will be higher than ever before. These rates, which the utility is required to file every July, reflect the future price of electricity supply, which we pass through to customers at cost without markup,” Kresse wrote. “In the coming weeks, the Commission will be holding public meetings on these forecasted rates.”
Rhode Island Attorney General Peter Neronha plans to file a motion to intervene to ensure Rhode Island Energy doesn’t profit off of the rate increase.
“We are going to watch this and look at this very carefully to make sure it’s not worse than it needs to be,” he said on a recent episode of Newsmakers.
Republican gubernatorial candidate Ashley Kalus dismissed McKee’s proposals as too little to make a difference.
“The average electric bill in Rhode Island is $176.00 a month – already 12% higher than the national average. Your bill could go to roughly $264.00. This is unacceptable,” Kalus tweeted. “The average Rhode Islander, and especially our seniors on a fixed income, will get crushed. Where is the relief?”