Rate relief set for National Grid customers this summer

Updated at 3:30 p.m.

NATIONAL GRID RHODE ISLAND customers will see their electricity bills decrease under seasonal rates approved by the R.I. Public Utilities Commission that take effect April 1. / PBN FILE PHOTO/MARK S. MURPHY

PROVIDENCE – Savings are on its way for National Grid customers, who should see their electric bills drop under seasonal rates that start April 1.

But relief will be short-lived.

Continued inflation, rising demand liquefied natural gas – which also affects electricity prices – and turmoil in Eastern Europe are going to spell trouble for ratepayers come winter, R.I. Public Utilities Commission Chairman Ronald Gerwatowski warned.

“I don’t think I’ve seen prices like this in my 35 years of working in the industry,” Gerwatowski said during a commission meeting on Wednesday. “And I think we haven’t seen the worst of it yet. It’s going to make it very difficult for folks to pay their bills next winter.”

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Commissioner Abigail Anthony stressed the importance of increasing National Grid’s energy efficiency programs, which can help offset some of the seasonal and market fluctuations in oil and gas.

Before those price hikes begin, though, customers will see some short-term relief under the seasonal last resort service rates approved by the commission on Wednesday. Starting April 1, residential customers can expect to save about 30%, or $16.60, on their monthly electric bills, compared with winter rates, according to National Grid filings to the commission. That calculation is based on the average use of 500 kilowatt-hours of electricity per month and the new, 7.6 cents per kilowatt-hour rate that takes effect April 1.

Commercial and industrial customers will also see savings under the new seasonal rates, although the amount their bills decrease will vary based on usage.

The electricity supply or LRS rates represent the cost at which National Grid buys electricity and delivers it to its customers without a mark-up. They are adjusted twice per year based on market conditions.

Winter rates take effect Oct. 1.

(UPDATE: Clarifies National Grid program)

Nancy Lavin is a PBN staff writer. You may reach her at Lavin@PBN.com.

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