Sen. Raptakis opposes R.I. Energy rate hike requests

 

Plans to re-introduce legislation to limit utility hikes to Consumer Price Index

 

STATE HOUSE – Calling enormous rate increases proposed by Rhode Island Energy “totally unacceptable,” Sen. Leonidas P. Raptakis plans to reintroduce legislation to rein in future utility rate increases by limiting them to increases in the Consumer Price Index (CPI).

The rate requests filed with the Public Utilities Commission by Rhode Island Energy would result in electric bills that are 47% higher and natural gas prices that are about 15% higher. A typical household that uses 500 kilowatt hours of electricity a month would see its monthly electric bill jump more than $50, from $111 to $163. The proposed electric rate would be the highest rate since at least 2000. The typical natural gas residential customer who uses 845 therms could expect a bill that higher by about 15%, meaning they would pay about $227 more over the course of a year. Small businesses using gas would experience a similar increase.

Rhode Island Energy, formerly known as National Grid, is the sole supplier of natural gas to Rhode Island and the vastly dominant supplier of electricity.

As he has several times in the past, Senator Raptakis (D-Dist. 33, Coventry, East Greenwich, West Greenwich) is calling on the PUC to reject the proposed increases and, in the future, limit any increases by linking rate hikes to increases in the Consumer Price Index.

The legislation he plans to introduce in January – similar to a bill he last sponsored in 2014 (2014-S 2175) – would provide that any rate increase with respect to electric and gas distribution companies would be no greater than the Consumer Price Index for all urban consumers, as published by the U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics.

In its most recent reporting, for July, the Bureau of Labor Statistics put the CPI for urban consumers for all items including utilities at 8.5 percent over the previous year.

“The Consumer Price Index is an economic measuring tool to adjust prices for the effects of inflation,” said Senator Raptakis. “Rather than allowing utilities to impose huge increases in the cost of their product, we can flatten out the impact of any proposed rate hikes by limiting the increase to keep it within the CPI.”

“Many Rhode Islanders are doing all they can to conserve energy already, but not many residents or business owners can expect a 47% pay increase, nor a 15% raise. It is irresponsible for Rhode Island Energy to come forward with this proposal for these huge increases at a time when many Rhode Island families are hurting and when Rhode Island businesses are struggling to survive and stay open,” said Senator Raptakis. “It is time to let the utility company, and the PUC, know that such unrealistic rate hike requests are going to be dead on arrival. Linking any rate increases to the CPI establishes realistic expectations and protects consumers from excessive rate hikes that fail to consider the current economic conditions.”

 

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