RI leaders call National Grid’s 53% rate hike ‘unacceptable’ and ‘unconscionable’

Increase would only cover cost of energy supply, so average bill would rise 19%

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Rhode Island’s lieutenant governor says he wants to try and block a double-digit increase in utility rates proposed by National Grid.

In July, National Grid proposed increasing energy prices starting in October, from 6.3 cents to 9.5 cents per kilowatt hour. Laws in Rhode Island prohibit National Grid from making a profit on the energy supply itself, and the company said the price hike is necessary to deal with rising energy costs.

In addition, the price increase would not affect delivery fees, so the average bill would go up by about 19% if the rate hike is approved, according to the Public Utilities Commission (PUC).

Still, Lt. Gov. Dan McKee took issue with the new utility rates, claiming that it could particularly impact the growth of small businesses. He said Wednesday he will submit a position statement to the PUC – which decides National Grid’s rates – before Aug. 8.

“National Grid’s proposed 53-percent standard offer rate increase is unacceptable,” McKee, a first-term Democrat, said in a statement. “Another rate hike is a step in the wrong direction when it comes to making Rhode Island a better place to live, work and own a business.”

State Sen. Elaine Morgan, R-Hopkinton, also took a stand against the proposed changes, calling the rate hike “unconscionable.”

Morgan, who runs a dry-cleaning business, argued: “It is already difficult to run a business in Rhode Island. If you speak with any business owner, they will tell you that escalating utility costs are a top concern.”

The PUC is scheduled to consider National Grid’s proposal at a hearing on Aug. 22 at 9:30 a.m.