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12/18/2014 Rep. Lombardi asks PUC to delay action on National Grid rate hike request
STATE HOUSE – In a letter to the Public Utilities Commission, Rep. John J. Lombardi (D-Dist. 8, Providence) has asked the agency to defer any action on the National Grid rate hike request until the new administration takes office in Rhode Island next January.
“Based on the information I have received in regard to this rate hike request, I do not believe there is any great urgency to act on this matter between now and early January, 2015,” said Representative Lombardi in his letter to the PUC Chairperson Margaret Curran.
“I would feel significantly more comfortable if a matter of such significance is not rushed to conclusion,” he wrote, adding that “I also believe it would be proper to withhold action on the rate hike request until the General Assembly convenes for its new session in January, to allow the legislature adequate time to conduct hearings on the matter and issue its findings and/or opinion.”
National Grid has filed a rate hike request with the PUC, seeking an increase of 23.6 percent. The increase, said the company, is due, in part, to lack of capacity in pipelines bringing natural gas to New England. When there is insufficient capacity to move more natural gas to the region, the price to use the pipes gets higher. If the 23.6 percent increase is approved, it would add about $20 to the typical residential customer’s monthly bill. A typical household that uses 500 kilowatt hours a month would see their bills rise from about $88 to about $109 per month.
In his letter, Representative Lombardi said that he has strong personal objections to the size of the proposed rate hike. “While I understand the explanation that has been given to justify such an enormous hike, I am very concerned about the ramifications of such a sizeable increase on the many Rhode Islanders who are struggling financially, as well as the many small and medium-sized businesses in our state that would be negatively impacted by a nearly 24 percent increase in their electric costs.”
Representative Lombardi said he hopes the PUC will defer any immediate action on the rate request, but that he is also considering the possibility of drafting legislation to address what he says have been “excessive utility rate increases that seem to happen with all too much regularity and which are hurting lower-income as well as middle class families in our state.”

For more information, contact:
Randall T. Szyba, Publicist
State House Room 20
Providence, RI 02903
(401) 222-2457