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New law seeks to protect Rhode Islanders who shop around for electricity

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PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — A new law aimed at protecting Rhode Islanders who buy their electricity through competitive suppliers instead of National Grid is now in effect.

In Rhode Island, homeowners have the option to bypass National Grid and purchase their electricity from other suppliers.

Those suppliers often secure electric rates lower than National Grid’s standard offer.

According to a 2018 report from the Public Utilities Commission (PUC), some consumers unknowingly paid nearly $28 million more than National Grid’s standard offer over the course of five years.

The new law will prohibit competitive suppliers from automatically renewing residential contracts.

The legislation also addresses concerns that consumers were losing track of their contract end dates, being automatically enrolled with a higher rate, and paying more with the competitive supplier than they would with National Grid.

Outside suppliers must contact ratepayers with written notifications when their contract is about to expire and provide an option to cancel the contract.

“We know that this is going to save ratepayers millions of dollars,” Lt. Gov. Daniel McKee said. “It’s also going to open up the market for [competitive suppliers] because ratepayers are going to have more confidence that what they sign up for will be the beginning and end.”

The new law only covers contracts beginning Aug. 1. Those who have signed an older agreement still have to contact the company to cancel their contract.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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