In the face of National Grid’s decree that they will again raise rates on consumers, Robert Lancia, Republican candidate for Cranston’s District 16 House of Representatives, announced that if elected, he will introduce legislation to abolish the RI Public Utilities Commission.
In part, the PUC is intended to oversee and regulate gas, electric distribution, water, telephone, telegraph, and pipeline public utilities. However, Lancia questions whether in reality, the PUC simply rubber-stamps any request, especially those from National Grid.
Lancia points out that National Grid was just granted a 12.1-percent rate increase less than a year ago, in January, 2014, and now, in the face of the likely 33-percent increase coming to neighboring Massachusetts, National Grid Rhode Island spokesman David Graves said RI is next for higher rates.
"Rhode Island rates won't be adjusted until Jan. 1 but will likely be subject to the same market conditions, driving the cost of electricity in Massachusetts," said Grave in a recent interview.
Consumers just can’t afford these hikes, stressed Lancia, when food, clothing and day-to-day living is on the rise and paychecks are at a standstill.
He was disgusted at National Grid’s website and the offhand advice to struggling consumers, which read “National Grid is advising customers to learn more about energy efficiency and install measures to help reduce energy costs.”
Lancia was further enraged when saw that The Boston Globe reported in June of this year that “National Grid chief executive, Steve Holliday earned $7.8 million in the last fiscal year, up 56 percent from about $5 million the previous year…Tom King, executive director of National Grid’s US subsidiary, based in Waltham, earned $6.8 million, up 58 percent from $4.3 million the previous year…The pay totals include awards, performance incentives, and other benefits, such as private medical insurance, as well as annual salaries”.
Further, other news outlets reported that National Grid announced “total annual operating profits of $6.1 billion for the year ending March 31, up 1 percent from the previous year. Of that, nearly $1.9 billion was attributed to the company's U.S. utilities in New York and New England.”
“Obviously, the people at the top of National Grid are not worrying about turning down their thermostat,” Lancia said. “Just their customers are supposed to suffer in the cold.”
“The PUC is charged with protecting the public from greedy corporations,” Lancia said. “Obviously, giving a rate hike to a company who is using that money to pay exorbitant salaries to its execs is not a commission at all in touch with Rhode Islanders, and they’re certainly not guarding the interests of the people.”