Even as Rhode Islanders suffer through tough economic times, including high unemployment, National Grid is asking for a big increase in rates and in their profits. This rate increase will tighten the financial straits that many household find themselves in these days. AARP opposes this major increase and recommends it be rejected outright or scaled back significantly to cover only those expenses essential to operating a reliable system.
National Grid is asking for a rate increase that would raise typical standard offer bills by 11%.
- Doubling the monthly customer charge from $2.75 to $5.50
- Customers who use the least electricity will see larger rate increases by a whopping 20% .
- Seniors often use very little electricity because they live alone or in smaller residences and they would get hit the hardest by this rate increase.
- Customers on the low income rate would also see rate increases of more than 20% due to the rate increase and the expiration of a credit.
National Grid is also requesting 6 new surcharges (“recovery mechanisms”) that will increase bill even more:
- decoupling charge—a charge that increases as consumers use less energy
- charge for tree trimming and other maintenance
- charge to cover debts owed to the utility
- charge to cover employee pensions
Arguably, some of these charges may be justified while others are clearly not.
Testifying at a public hearing by PUC commission earlier this year, Kathleen S. Connell, State Director of AARP said, “Seniors will not receive a cost of living increase this year and any increase in electric rates will hurt the many people who cannot keep up with current costs.” Connell continued, “Times are so difficult right now, this rate hike request would be hilarious if it were not so serious.”
The Rhode Island Public Utilities Commission is conducting extensive “evidentiary” public hearings on the proposal, which are scheduled to conclude in mid-December. It’s ruling is expected sometime after the first of the year.
Check our website for details when ruling when it is announced.