NEWPORT, R.I. (WPRI) — It’s been two months since a gas outage left more than 10,000 National Grid customers without heat on Aquidneck Island, yet some impacted residents say they’re still waiting on reimbursements from the utility company.
One woman tells Eyewitness News her electric bill skyrocketed because of the gas outage since her family needed seven space heaters to keep warm.
“We were very concerned about how cold it was and how quickly the temperature would drop,” she said.
The week-long outage was due to a dramatic drop in pressure from National Grid’s transmission system, Algonquin Gas Transmission Co. The utility company had to suspend gas service to thousands of homes and businesses in Newport County as a result.
Although state officials urged impacted residents to book a hotel, the woman tells Eyewitness News she has two young children and felt most comfortable keeping them at home in a familiar environment.
“That’s what our initial concern was, what was our electrical bill going to be? Even if there were some small increases I thought it would maybe be offset by a difference in our gas bill… but our gas bill was the same,” she explained.
The woman said her electric bill was $158 more than it was last year in January. She said she feels National Grid should help her family foot the bill.
According to a spokesperson from National Grid, increased utilities were not on the list of things the company would reimburse, but they do look at each situation on a case by case basis.
The woman said National Grid eventually offered her $50 towards her electrical bill. She believes customers were promised more than what they received from the company.
“I feel like it’s a big, giant company that makes millions and millions of dollars that is profiting off of these increased electricity bills,” she said.
Kresse said in cases like this one, the protocol in place is to compare the bill from the time of the outage to last years, and then the company could offer up a $50 difference.
National Grid is still accepting claims from impacted customers in both Newport and Middletown. So far, Kresse said the company has responded to more than 2,000 claims so far, paying back more than $1.2 million. He said a big chunk of the reimbursements went towards people who stayed in hotels.