Governor Dan McKee and the Office of Energy Resources (OER) announced a proposal to use $3.8 million in funding from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) fund to provide direct rate relief to low-income Rhode Island residents who are most at risk of not being able to afford their electricity bills this winter.
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This funding proposed by Governor McKee is expected to help approximately 39,000 low-income customers with Rhode Island Energy billing accounts during the winter electricity rates period from October through March.
On behalf of the Governor, OER will be proposing the RGGI Allocation Plan draft for a 30-day public comment period that will provide direct rate relief to low-income customers and maintain ongoing support for prior RGGI funded efforts on climate change, renewables and energy efficiency to advance the state’s goals with Act on Climate.
Rhode Island Energy, the State’s primary utility, recently announced that it is requesting a significant winter rate increase, effective October 1, due to an unprecedented surge in energy costs this winter season.
The utility is prohibited by law from profiting from the sale of energy and passes the costs of energy directly to ratepayers.
This rate relief announcement comes after the Governor sent a letter last week urging the Public Utilities Commission to take specific action to provide relief to all Rhode Islanders in response to Rhode Island Energy's request for a rate increase.
These actions include:
• Suspending the customer charge on residential electric bills until next summer when electricity prices are projected to decline significantly.
• Distributing the $32.5 million in Rhode Island Energy electric ratepayer bill credits from the State's settlement with PPL Corporation back to ratepayers over a six-month period that coincides with this coming winter when electric rates will be elevated.
• Moderating the impact on ratepayers by spreading the higher rates over a twelve-month period.
“This surge in electricity costs this winter are going to impact all Rhode Islanders,” said Governor McKee.
“Our most vulnerable residents do not have the means to absorb this rate increase. We have a responsibility to do everything possible to protect them.
"That's why we're proposing to use $3.8 million from our RGGI funds to provide direct rate relief to low-income utility customers who are most at risk this winter. This will help ease the burden of higher-than-average electricity prices and continue our commitment to provide relief to Rhode Islanders in the face of rising prices and inflation.”
There will be a 30-day public comment period on the Administration's drafted RGGI Allocation Plan starting August 10. OER will be having two public hearings on the drafted RGGI Allocation Plan on September 6 and 8. ■