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By PBN Staff
By PBN Staff
PROVIDENCE – Beginning Jan. 1, Rhode Islanders who buy their electricity through National Grid will see their monthly electricity bills increase, the utility said Friday.
Between January and June 2014, the Standard Offer residential rate will be 8.55 cents per kilowatt-hour, compared with 6.35 cents per kWh during the previous six months. Combined with adjustments to the Energy Efficiency Charge and the rate factor covering the costs of securing long-term renewable energy, this rate increase will bring the monthly charge for Standard Offer customers using 500 kWhs of electricity from $78.91 to $88.47, an increase of $9.56 or 12.1 percent.
On Friday, the R.I. Public Utilities Commission approved the rate increase, which according to National Grid was caused by rising wholesale power prices due to New England’s dependency on natural gas and the expectation of constrained gas supplies over the winter. Approximately 50 percent of New England’s electricity generation is fueled by natural gas.
“Unfortunately this increase is driven by market forces we cannot control,” said Timothy F. Horan, president of National Grid in Rhode Island. “We understand that for some of our customers any rate increase may be difficult to manage and National Grid wants to work proactively to help Rhode Islanders control their energy costs as much as possible.”
National Grid does not generate electricity and plays no role in determining market prices, the utility said.
In a release issued Friday announcing the hike in electricity rates, National Grid advised its customers to explore energy efficiency options to reduce energy costs, and encouraged Rhode Islanders who may have difficulty paying their monthly gas or electric bills to contact the company.
National Grid’s natural gas customers in Rhode Island saw a 1 percent decrease in gas rates effective on Nov. 1. The commodity rates for natural gas are a product of National Grid’s long-range natural gas purchase policies in Rhode Island, which help to mitigate price fluctuations, the company said.