National Grid files winter rate request increases to RIPUC

GOV. GINA M. RAIMONDO wants state lawmakers to grant authority for regulators to fine National Grid Rhode Island and other utilities for poor performance. / COURTESY NATIONAL GRID
GOV. GINA M. RAIMONDO wants state lawmakers to grant authority for regulators to fine National Grid Rhode Island and other utilities for poor performance. / COURTESY NATIONAL GRID

PROVIDENCE – National Grid Rhode Island submitted a winter rate increase request to the R.I. Public Utilities Commission for Standard Offer Service Friday.

The requested increase would see residential rates under the standard offer rise an estimated $8.95, or 8% per month, for those using 500 kilowatt hours per month. The residential standard-offer service for residential customers would increase 1.72 cents per kilowatt hour to 10.96 cents per kilowatt hour.

Small commercial and industrial rates have been requested to be increased an estimated 4.8%-6% depending on usage. Medium commercial and industrial customers would see an estimated 10%-14 % increase under the proposal, again depending on usage.

The proposed rates, if approved, will be in effect between Oct. 1, 2019, and March 31, 2020. National Grid said that past increases were attributable to power plant retirements in the region. It also framed the new proposed increases as a leveling out for the state.

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At the same time the company said that prices are expected to be adjusted down again in the spring, much as there were this spring after having been raised 13.1% for residential customers last winter.

Unlike the past two winter seasons, which saw double-digit percentage increases on a typical residential monthly bill, this year’s increase will be less substantial,” said Terry Sobolewski, president of National Grid Rhode Island. “We’re finally starting to see some leveling of those more dramatic fluctuations customers experienced during the winter pricing seasons of 2017-18 and 2018-19.  Much of those increases were driven by the recent retirement announcements of several power plants in the region.”

The company also cited the constraints on natural gas pipelines in the region in the winter as a factor that can drive up electricity prices – saying that 50% of electricity in New England is generated from natural gas, while a significant portion of the gas is used for higher-priority home heating in the winter.

“We know any increase in the cost of energy presents challenges for our customers. Despite making great strides in bringing more renewable energy generation online, and seeing the price of that energy decline, we know our customers still want lower energy prices now,” Sobolewski added. “And while we can’t control the cost of that supply, we can help our customers take greater control of their energy costs through our energy-saving programs and other assistance programs.”

Chris Bergenheim is the PBN web editor. You may reach him at Bergenheim@PBN.com.

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