Senator Paul V. Jabour is calling on the Public Utilities Commission not to act on National Grid’s request for an almost 24 percent rate increase until the General Assembly reconvenes and there is an opportunity for additional hearings to be conducted.
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. Senator Jabour (D – Dist. 5, Providence), a member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, yesterday participated in a joint hearing of the Senate Committees on Commerce and Environment & Agriculture regarding the rate increase request. Nicholas S. Ucci of the Office of Energy Resources gave a presentation at the hearing and addressed senators’ questions.
“I was startled by the information presented at the hearing. It is very difficult to digest the cost of this increase, which will have a staggering impact on small business owners as well as low income and middle class Rhode Islanders,” said Senator Jabour. “It is troubling that National Grid waited so long to present this to the public, even while honoring the cost of supply contracts.”
Senator Jabour believes that National Grid should share in the increased cost of supply contracts. “Why does the consumer bear the entire burden of this increase?” he asked. “In my opinion, that is part of the cost of doing business. This should not be wholly on the consumer. It should be shared by National Grid.”
Senator Jabour said that he will submit legislation that had been introduced in the Senate last session by Senator Leonidas P. Raptakis to tie electric rates increases to the consumer price index. He also questioned why the procurement strategy doesn’t seem to have changed in light of this spike in pricing.
“The information filed with the PUC doesn’t show any change in their procurement plan. I will be including in my legislation a requirement that there be a change in their procurement plan to bring down costs.”
Meanwhile, Senator Jabour is calling on the PUC not to act until the Legislature returns to session in January and can convene additional hearings, at which he would like to hear directly from executives at National Grid. Senator Jabour would like to see an energy summit convened at which all parties can meet and discuss alternatives.
“Connecticut cited Rhode Island’s Affordable Clean Energy Security Act as a model. I supported that act, and believe that National Grid needs to work in conjunction with it to bring down costs to consumers. Crushing increases such as the one they are proposing are absolutely unacceptable. We demand better planning and management from our electricity supplier,” said Senator Jabour.