WARWICK, R.I. (WPRI) — Rhode Island Energy customers could be shelling out more money for their utility bills in the coming months.

The utility told customers back in July to expect higher electricity bills this coming winter, then said the same for residential and commercial gas customers earlier this month.

Rhode Island Energy said the rate hikes are a temporary fix to offset the higher costs to provide power, given the current state of the economy.

Electricity customers are expected to see their bills increase roughly $52 per month from October through March, while gas bills could go up 15% for residential customers and 16% for small businesses starting Nov. 1.

“These increases, which are being seen around the region, are being dominantly driven by global conflicts, higher demand for natural gas supplies, and gas transmission infrastructure challenges during peak days that Rhode Island Energy cannot control,” Rhode Island Energy’s Stephanie Briggs said Friday.

It’s now up to the R.I. Public Utilities Commission to grant or deny the planned hikes.

The PUC held a meeting Friday morning to hear testimony on the proposal. Dozens of people packed into the agency’s office in Warwick, while others were able to comment on Zoom or over the phone.

“I want you to consider the repercussions, not for just us immediately, but everywhere, even the foster care system,” customer Monica Huertez said. “Kids are going to be disposed of because they just simply cannot afford to keep the kids in their home.”

Written comments can still be submitted by emailing PUC.PublicComments@puc.ri.gov, SUBJECT: RI Energy Rate Change.

Rhode Island Energy says help is available for Rhode Islanders who need help paying their bills. The utility offered the following tips:

  • Shop for electricity: We encourage customers to use the Last Resort Service rates as a reference point when shopping for the electricity supplier that offers the service and price that is right for them. If customers do choose to shop for a supplier, we encourage them to pay attention to the specific terms of the agreements they sign. Sometimes suppliers offer introductory offers or special incentives. Customers should be aware of variable rates that often start low and then increase significantly with the price of energy. For tips on smart shopping, visit the state of Rhode Island’s website.
  • Save energy: Reducing the amount of energy used at a home or business can save customers money on their monthly bills. Rhode Island Energy offers tips, programs, and rebates that can help. Residential customers can also sign up for a free home energy audit. For more information, visit RIEnergy.com.
  • Get bill assistance: We offer numerous programs and tools – including budget billing and payment plans – to help customers who are having trouble keeping up with their electric bills. To learn more, visit RIEnergy.com or call 1-800-743-1104.