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National Grid’s rate case, and the future of energy in Rhode Island, continues


National Grid is proposing significant rate hikes for both gas and electric utility service, and the Rhode Island Public Utilities Commission (PUC) will be deciding on these increases. In return for these rate increases, National Grid wants to invest in more natural gas infrastructure, marrying Rhode Island to fossil fuels for the next 30 years – at least. Right now, in a series of meetings taking place across the state of Rhode Island, the public is being invited to present their opinions.

At the fourth public meeting, held in Providence last week, the George Wiley Center and the Providence Chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America made the case for PIPP (Percentage Income Payment Plan). Under PIPP, a plan Rhode Island had in place from 1986 to the mid-90’s, people pay a percentage of their income for their utility bills instead of a fixed rate. PIPP is strongly opposed by National Grid, even though it would allow Rhode Islanders in poverty or on fixed incomes to avoid falling behind on their utility payments.

Below find all the video from everyone who commented at the meeting:

And here is all the rest of the meeting, including comments from PUC Chair Margaret Curran and the comments from National Grid legal counsel:

Here’s a list of upcoming meetings:

March 8, 2018 @ 6:00 P.M.
Narragansett Town Hall – Council Chambers
25 Fifth Avenue, Narragansett, Rhode Island

March 15, 2018 @ 6:00 P.M.
Public Utilities Commission – Hearing Room A
89 Jefferson Boulevard, Warwick, Rhode Island

The hearing will continue on June 7, 2018 at 9:30 A.M. at the PUC’s office.

You can contact the George Wiley Center here:


Description of the rate filing by the PUC:

In this docket, the PUC will examine the propriety of an application by National Grid seeking approval to increase base distribution rates for its electric distribution and gas distribution operations in Rhode Island. As submitted, the Company requests approval of certain ratemaking proposals designed to recover the costs incurred to operate the electric and gas distribution systems on a safe and reliable basis for customers.

These proposals include: increased staffing, including positions for new electric and gas workers; computer system upgrades; cost recovery procedures for major storm events; a multi-year, enterprise-wide, gas-operations program that will enhance National Grid’s core gas operating capabilities necessary to support National Grid’s U.S. gas distribution business into the future; new programs and services for income-eligible customers and increased investment in current income-eligible customer offerings; and the Energy Innovation Hub located in Providence designed to expand customer education and outreach and enrich customers’ understandings of energy and the options available to them to manage their energy use.

For National Grid Electric, the proposed rates would increase the Company’s annual operating revenue by approximately $41.3 million, or 4.6 percent, with varying impacts on individual customer bills. The monthly bill impact for a typical electric residential customer using 500 kWh per month would be an increase of $6.66 per month or 6.3 percent. The monthly bill impact on electric commercial and industrial customers will range from an increase of approximately 3 percent to an increase of approximately 9 percent.

For National Grid Gas, the proposed rates will increase the Company’s annual operating revenue by approximately $30.3 million or 8.0 percent, with varying impacts on individual customer bills. The annual bill impact for a typical residential gas heating customer consuming 845 therms annually, would be an annual increase of $66.82 or 5.4 percent. The annual bill impact on gas commercial and industrial customers will range from an increase of approximately 1 percent to approximately 6 percent.

The PUC may approve different rates that may be higher or lower than those proposed by National Grid.

The application is available for examination at the PUC’s office. The filing can also be accessed at http://www.ripuc.org/eventsactions/docket/4770page.html . Reference is made to Chapters 39-1, 39-3 and 42-35 of the Rhode Island General Laws.

These building are accessible to the handicapped. Individuals requesting interpreter services for the hearing impaired must notify the Commission Clerk’s office at 780-2107 seventy-two hours in advance of hearing date.

I rarely speak at public meetings, because the story, like this one here, teeters on being about me rather than the important topic I’m trying to cover. But occasionally I can’t help myself. This PUC meeting was held in the Hope High School auditorium in Providence, illuminated by two light bulbs- one over the stage where the PUC Board was sitting, and one over the audience. When I asked if more lights could be turned on I was informed that turning on more lights risked light bulbs burning out, and they didn’t want to risk it.

Of course, this meeting wasn’t about the sorry state of disrepair our schools have fallen into – that’s another story entirely – it was about National Grid’s rate case.

My little Sony Handicam is really good in low light situations, but I was filming in the dark. I had to run the video through a filter to achieve the poor quality of the videos here.

So here’s my testimony:

“Until today, I always thought the phrase, ‘Democracy Dies in Darkness’ was a metaphor,” I began…

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[…] the Public Utilities Commission have yielded some positive results. After the disaster that was the Providence public comment hearing. Held at Hope High School, a notoriously underfunded school, members of the public were given a […]