National Grid, state lawyers quarrel over billing adjustment

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Thousands of Southern New Englanders who opted for cheaper electric rates by changing companies got a charge they were not expecting.

At a public hearing at the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) Thursday, lawyers for both National Grid and the State of Rhode Island argued over the “standard offer billing adjustment” — and why it’s necessary.

If your electric bill gets your blood boiling every month, you could always switch to another supplier — that’s what Wendy Auclair of Pawtucket did.

But like thousands of others, she said she regrets the decision to switch providers.

“I am upset that I didn’t know about it. Otherwise I wouldn’t have changed over,” she told Call 12 For Action.

Wendy’s concern is that a one time standard offer billing adjustment by National Grid — for some, is totaling hundreds of dollars.

“When a customer switches their electricity from National Grid to another supply company, we have to recalculate their bill — and compare what they paid to us to what it actually cost us to buy the electricity,” David Graves of National Grid said.

Now, Lt. Governor Dan McKee is requesting that the PUC terminate National Grid’s billing adjustment rate, pointing out that neighboring states have already taken action to end it.

“It’s been 16 years, and we haven’t structured a system that allows rate players to actually take advantage of the competition without the risk of potential of having huge costs,” McKee said.

National Grid said the adjustment charge is not a fee or a penalty — just a recovery of the actual cost that they’ve incurred from individual customers who have opted to make the switch.

The PUC hearing is expected to continue for two days, and a final decision will be made in a few weeks.

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