PUC approves summer electricity rate reduction

Savings less than realized in past years because of deferred fee collection

By: - March 30, 2023 1:00 am

The Public Utilities Commission, shown meeting at its Warwick office Wednesday, March 29, has approved new six-month seasonal electricity rates set to begin April 1. (Photo by Nancy Lavin/Rhode Island Current)

Relief is on the way for Rhode Island Energy customers under seasonal electric rates approved by state utility regulators on Wednesday.

But the summer savings on electric bills won’t be as significant as years past, as the state’s primary utility operator seeks to recoup the money lost from temporarily deferring a monthly charge – $6 for residential customers and $10 for commercial customers – for six months last winter. Postponing the collection of the monthly fee was one of several measures taken by the utility company and state government to offset record rate hikes.

Many of the same geopolitical and market factors driving up prices are also pushing summer rates higher than in the past. The new electric usage rate (not including customer fees or other charges) is 9.1 cents per kilowatt-hour for residential customers,  versus the 7.7 cents charged per kilowatt-hour last summer. 

The average residential customer who uses 500 kilowatt-hours of electricity will see their monthly bill drop 20%, to $118.35, compared with a $147.90 bill over the past winter, according to calculations by Rhode Island Energy filed with the Public Utilities Commission. That includes the $12 per month customer charge plus other administrative costs, in addition to the charge based on electricity usage.

Commercial customers would see monthly savings ranging from a few cents to $144.04, depending on usage, with the biggest savings for businesses that use the most electricity. 

The six-month seasonal rates begin April 1.

An even more startling rate hike may be around the corner, with preliminary company forecasts for next winter’s electricity rates on-par with, or even higher than, the last one.

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Nancy Lavin
Nancy Lavin

Nancy Lavin is senior reporter covering state politics, energy and environmental issues for the Rhode Island Current.

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