Energy Efficiency, Budget Billing and Assistance Programs Key To Helping Customers Take Greater Control Of Energy Costs
PROVIDENCE, RI – Rhode Islanders face a higher price for electricity each winter as the cost of energy in the region swings on a seasonal basis. On Friday, July 19, National Grid submitted its proposal to the Rhode Island Public Utilities Commission (RIPUC) for Standard Offer Service (SOS) rates for the upcoming winter season. While the bill impacts from this year’s increase are less impactful to customers than the previous two years, customers should still plan accordingly.
The new SOS rates, if approved by the RIPUC, are effective for residential and small and medium commercial and industrial customers from October 1, 2019 through March 31, 2020. The electricity supply rates represent the cost at which National Grid buys electricity and delivers it to our customers, which is passed along without a mark-up. At the discretion of the RIPUC, rates are adjusted twice a year for these customers. Electricity supply prices are determined by the market, and SOS rates represent the cost for electricity purchased at those prices. The price of electricity between April 1 and September 30 is traditionally lower than the winter season.
“Unlike the past two winter seasons, which saw double digit percentage increases on a typical residential monthly bill, this year’s increase will be less substantial,” said Terry Sobolewski, President of National Grid Rhode Island. “We’re finally starting to see some leveling of those more dramatic fluctuations customers experienced during the winter pricing seasons of 2017-18 and 2018-19. Much of those increases were driven by the recent retirement announcements of several power plants in the region.”
When measured against currently effective rates, the estimated monthly bill increases for a residential SOS customer using 500 kWh per month is $8.95, or 8%. For Small Commercial customers, bill impacts reflect increases ranging from 4.8% to 6.0%, depending on usage. Medium Commercial and Industrial customers would see increases ranging from 10% to 14%, depending on size and usage. National Grid’s residential SOS rate in Rhode Island decreased in April from 10.990 cents to 9.240 cents per kilowatt hour.
Last year, the RIPUC approved seasonal increases that had a bill impact of $13.04, or 13.1% for a typical residential customer using 500 kWh per month. Under today’s filing, residential SOS rates would increase by 1.717 cents per kilowatt hour to 10.957 cents per kilowatt hour, pending approval by the RIPUC. The increase applies to the “Supply Services” portion of a customer’s bill and SOS rates are expected to decrease again next Spring.
“We know any increase in the cost of energy presents challenges for our customers. Despite making great strides in bringing more renewable energy generation online, and seeing the price of that energy decline, we know our customers still want lower energy prices now,” Sobolewski added. “And while we can’t control the cost of that supply, we can help our customers take greater control of their energy costs through our energy saving programs and other assistance programs.”
The retirement announcements and eventual shut-down of several power plants in the region have led to some short-term impacts on the energy markets over the past several years. New England went from having a surplus of power generation to a much lower availability of supply for a certain period of time. Still it is common for electricity supply prices to rise in the winter because of continued constraints on natural gas pipelines serving the region. More than fifty percent of New England’s electricity generation is now fueled by natural gas.
What Can Customers Do To Prepare For the Higher Rates?
The best way for customers to try and decrease their bills and prepare for the adjustment is by becoming more energy efficient in their energy use year-round. For example, replacing a minimum of five incandescent lights with ENERGY STAR® light bulbs could provide a typical savings of $9 a month and help offset the seasonal increase. Simply recycling or getting rid of a second, older refrigerator could also save customers $23 a month. Customers can visit www.ngrid.com/shop to shop a selection of energy efficient and smart home products while receiving instant rebates exclusive to National Grid customers. The site offers products like ENERGY STAR® LED light bulbs, water saving showerheads, smart thermostats, and more – which can all help customers conveniently lower their energy use. For more tips on how to lower your energy bills, customers can go visit: www.ngrid.com/save.
National Grid also offers many programs to help customers manage their costs:
- National Grid offers budget plan programs to help customers spread payments out more evenly across the year, which are particularly helpful to those on fixed incomes. This service is available to customers all year long.
- Billing options and discount rates also are available to help eligible customers who may have difficulty paying their monthly gas or electric bill. Discounted rates are based on service area and certain eligibility requirements.
- For more information about bill assistance, customers should contact National Grid at 800-322-3223. Customers can also visit www.ngrid.com/billhelp.
- When it comes to the supply portion of the bill, most customers also have the option to choose from a variety of competitive electricity suppliers. Customers can perform their due diligence and explore other supplier options at www.ri.gov/empowerri or on our website at www.nationalgridus.com. Regardless of a customer’s chosen supplier, National Grid will continue to deliver reliable electricity, respond to service and emergency needs and provide storm restoration services.