President of the Senate M. Teresa Paiva Weed and Senate Majority Leader Dominick J. Ruggerio wrote to the Public Utilities Commission today to ask that they moderate the electricity rate increase requested by National Grid.
“Energy, like food and housing, is an indispensible necessity of life,” they wrote. “It must be our collective goal to ensure that energy costs are affordable to all Rhode Islanders, both residents and businesses alike. We believe it is possible to moderate this rate proposal, and we request that you take the necessary steps to do so.”
National Grid is seeking an increase of 23.6 percent, which would add about $20 to the typical residential customer’s monthly bill. A typical household that uses 500 kilowatt hours a month would see an increase from $88 to $109 a month.
“This dramatic rate increase affects the electricity bills of residential households as well as businesses and industrial users, and is detrimental to our struggling economy,” wrote President Paiva Weed (D – Dist. 13, Newport, Jamestown) and Majority Leader Ruggerio (D – Dist. 4, North Providence, Providence).
They continued, “The negative impacts of electricity affordability extend to the overall state economy, threatening job growth and harming the state’s competitive position in regional, national and global markets. Our small businesses are looking for relief as they attempt to rebuild their workforces and profits. Electric rate hikes could negatively affect their investment in capital and labor.”
The leaders also noted, “The lack of affordable energy disproportionately impacts working families and Rhode Islanders who are on a fixed income. In addition, higher electricity costs are certain to increase already strained municipal and school budgets, which may result in higher property taxes when municipalities cannot absorb these rate increases in their budgets.”
President Paiva Weed and Majority Leader Ruggerio encouraged continued collaboration with neighboring states to address the challenges driving up commodity costs, including working to improve natural gas pipeline capacity and supply.
Legislation was enacted this session to enable Rhode Island’s governor to work collaboratively with governors in other New England states to accomplish this common goal.