Public Utilities Commission approves electric rate hike

WARWICK, R.I. (WPRI) — The Rhode Island State Public Utilities Commission has voted to increase the rate on electric bills for consumers, effective Jan. 2015.

The raucous meeting had residents singing protest songs to the tune of popular Christmas carols, making it clear they were strongly against paying more for electricity.

Despite the loud noise, the Public Utilities Commissioner discussed the logic in having to approve the significant hike in the cost of electricity.

“It’s a pipeline issue. We have inadequate gas pipeline capacity into New England, and that is what is driving up these prices. Not just here in Rhode Island, but in the rest of the New England states,” said Herbert DeSimone.

The commission eventually voted not to reject National Grid’s request for a rate hike, but to instead spread out the increase over 12 months instead of six months.

“I have to plan my budget to plan for emergencies. If something happens, I am prepared. Why can’t the utility company plan accordingly?” asked Deborah Das of Warwick.

The monthly rate increase will now be up by 14.25 percent, instead of the proposed 23.6 percent. However, the commission has already raised the possibility of yet another rate increase in July 2015.

This article was edited on March 13, 2015, to correct an error in the quote from Herbert DeSimone.

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