Rate Increase for Rhode Island Energy Consumers Likely as PUC Votes
Rate increase for Rhode Island Energy consumers likely, As PUC gathers to vote on rate proposal Tuesday.
Rhode Island Energy (RI Energy) customers should brace for a spike in their electricity bills in the upcoming months. The Public Utilities Commission (PUC) is set to hold an open meeting tomorrow, September 26th, to vote on a proposed rate increase that goes into effective October 1st. Given that RI Energy does not profit from the cost of electricity and merely passes the actual costs to its customers, most believe it is certain the rate hike will be approved.
While local advocates have accused RI Energy of “corporate greed” for these increased rates, RI Energy actually earns very little from the electricity side of its business here in RI and what it does earn largely comes from the natural gas side. With regards to electricity service, all of its profits come from transmission charges, or the cost to transmit electricity from power plants to your home. Comparing these costs over time shows these rates have been relatively stable. For the period ending August 2021, transmission-related charges totaled 11.5¢/kwh, in August 2022 they were 11.6¢/kwh, and for August 2023 were 12.5¢/kwh. While 2023 does reflect an 8% increase over prior years (roughly $4.50/mo for the average bill), RI Energy expenses have also increased as storms and other disasters resulting from the climate collapse have caused their cost of insurance and other maintenance expenses to increase. RI Energy’s latest quarterly report reflects its rather meager profits from the RI market:
At the heart of this years-long surge in electricity rates is the escalating cost of natural gas nationwide. This rise in cost directly impacts all energy companies like Rhode Island Energy, which ultimately translates to higher bills for consumers.
The PUC’s meeting, scheduled to be held at 10:00 A.M. in Hearing Room A, at 89 Jefferson Boulevard in Warwick, will address the “Last Resort Service” (LRS) rates that RI Energy filed in July 2023. These proposed rates will apply from October 2023 to March 2024.
It should be noted that while the public can stream this meeting live via the link provided, this is not a public hearing. Hence, no oral comments from the public will be entertained by the PUC.
In a bid to provide relief to low-income customers amidst these high rates, the Office of Energy Resources, acting as an intervenor, has proposed allocating $3,000,000 from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) auction proceeds. This allocation is intended for RI Energy customers enrolled in the A-60 rate class during the winter billing cycle.
For more details or to watch the PUC meeting live, visit https://video.ibm.com/channel/WqQyXw296dg.