National Grid Settles Rate Case, But RI Welfare Rights Organization Says Still Not Good Enough

Jun 8, 2018

National Grid customers in Rhode Island could see their electric bills go up this fall, and a group that advocates for lower-income residents is not happy about it. 

National Grid recently reached a settlement with more than a dozen intervenors, including the George Wiley Center, a welfare rights organization.

In the settlement, National Grid is proposing to increase a typical household’s monthly electric bill by about $4, which is lower than the $7 the company originally proposed.

Camilo Viveiros, coordinator of the George Wiley Center, said it’s a move in the right direction, but the group still isn’t pleased with the outcome of the settlement.     

“We can’t accept any rate increases while we don’t have at least the bare minimum of protection through a percentage income payment plan," Viveiros said. 

A percentage of income payment plan is a program that makes utility bills more affordable and consistent year-round for eligible customers.

Viveiros said Rhode Island used to offer the program in the 1980s. Today, he said the payment plan exists in 12 states, including states where National Grid operates.

The Geoarge Wiley Center has been pushing the state legislature to pass a bill that would re-establish the program in Rhode Island. 

Both the Senate and House bills have since been held in their respective committees for further study.  

National Grid's proposed settlement would decrease a typical household's annual gas bill by $2. 

They're also proposing to double the discount offered to lower-income residents to 25 percent off of their total gas and electric bill. That means eligible customers would save $15 a month on electricity and $260 a year on gas. 

However, Viveiros  said the discount still isn't up to par with what Massachusetts offers its lower-income residents.

Naional Grid plans to invest in electrical grid modernization as well, which would prepare the grid for the integration of clean energy resources at the leat amount of cost.  

Rhode Island’s Public Utilities Commission will hold hearings before approving the National Grid settlement by September 1.