PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Rhode Island Energy says the ongoing market conditions are driving up the price of electricity.
Rhode Islanders typically use less electricity in the winter, but customers likely won’t see a decrease in their monthly bills this winter as they may have in the past.
The rising price of natural gas combined with other global economic events will result in higher costs to provide the power, according to Rhode Island Energy, formerly known as National Grid.
“When prices went down to one of their lowest levels in years this spring, the winter forecasts did not look good. Unfortunately, those forecasts were accurate and the price of electricity this winter is something we have never seen before,” Rhode Island Energy Dave Bonenberger explained.
Rhode Island Energy said that while it’s an energy supplier, 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, the company noted.
“Now that we know the full impacts, we all need to look out for one another, help each other save on our energy consumption, and educate more people about the programs that can help assist their neighbors,” Bonenberger continued.
Rhode Island Energy said its Last Resort Service (LRS) rates are updated twice a year and the energy obtained for its customers is based on competitive energy auctions, which are designed to get the lowest rate being offered.
The new rate proposed for the upcoming winter is 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.
The proposed winter supply rates are temporary, Rhode Island Energy said, and will be in effect from Oct. 1, 2022, to March 31, 2023.
“We know that anytime the household budget sees an increase, it can create anxiety for our customers. That’s why we’ll continue to share with customers ways they can decrease their energy use and learn about billing assistance programs for those who need it,” Bonenberger added. “We are also working with regulators to ensure the bill credits and debt forgiveness commitments we made as part of the purchase of Narragansett Electric can be credited to customers in the coming months.”
Rhode Island Energy provided actions customers can take to help minimize the impact on their bills:
- 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.RIE (743).1104.
The new rates were sent to the Rhode Island Public Utilities Commission to be reviewed.
Rhode Island Attorney General Peter Neronha is planning on filing a motion to intervene.
“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.