Pawtucket Times

McKee pushes leg­is­la­tion to pro­tect small busi­ness

Bills to re­duce en­ergy costs would aid busi­ness and res­i­den­tial elec­tric­ity cus­tomers, says Lt. Gov.

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PROV­I­DENCE – Lt. Gover­nor Daniel J. McKee held a press conference this week to call for ac­tion on his Ratepayer Pro­tec­tion Leg­isla­tive Pack­age that would im­prove cus­tomer ser­vice lev­els to elec­tric ratepay­ers and lower en­ergy costs for Rhode Is­land small busi­nesses and res­i­den­tial cus­tomers.

McKee was joined by general assem­bly mem­bers, mu­nic­i­pal lead­ers and lo­cal small busi­ness own­ers to sup­port this leg­isla­tive pack­age. In at­ten­dance were Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Deb­o­rah Rug­giero; Se­na­tor Ana Quezada; Mayor Scott Ave­disian, War­wick; Town Ad­min­is­tra­tor Steven Con­tente, Bris­tol; Mayor James Diossa, Central Falls; G. Richard Fossa, Chief of Staff to Mayor Charles Lom­bardi, North Prov­i­dence; Mayor Don­ald Gre­bien, Paw­tucket; Mayor Wil­liam Mur­ray, Cum­ber­land; Os­car Mei­jas, Pres­i­dent, His­panic Cham­ber of Com­merce; Wayne Celia, Pres­i­dent, Di­ver­si­fied Dis­tri­bu­tion; Bob Collins, Owner, Reidy’s Fam­ily Restau­rant and Kevin Hoyle, CEO, B2B Gate­way.Net.

The Ratepayer Pro­tec­tion Leg­isla­tive Pack­age is a con­tin­u­a­tion of McKee’s ef­forts to lower en­ergy costs that be­gan in 2015 with the elim­i­na­tion of the billing ad­just­ment, a fee that cost Na­tional Grid cus­tomers about $1.5 mil­lion that year af­ter they switched to com­pet­i­tive elec­tric­ity sup­pli­ers. The pack­age also builds on McKee’s more re­cent work in this area, the 2016 launch of Em­power RI, an en­ergy-shop­ping web­site that al­lows com­mer­cial and res­i­den­tial ratepay­ers to find the best elec­tric rates.

McKee’s leg­isla­tive pack­age is made up of five bills:

H 6171/S 874: Low­er­ing en­ergy costs by en­cour­ag­ing com­pe­ti­tion in the elec­tric mar­ket

Cre­ates a pro­gram that re­quires elec­tric com­pa­nies to bear the risks re­lated to non­pay­ment by cus­tomers. This re­duces the bar­ri­ers that com­pet­i­tive sup­pli­ers face to en­ter­ing the elec­tric mar­ket.

H 6182/S 875: Low­er­ing en­ergy costs by prop­erly ac­count­ing for in­cen­tive pay­ments

Re­quires the Pub­lic Util­i­ties Com­mis­sion to ac­count for in­cen­tive pay­ments that are paid to util­ity com­pa­nies by us­ing those pay­ments to re­duce profit lev­els dur­ing rate ap­proval cases, thereby re­duc­ing rates. This bill also re­quires elec­tric com­pa­nies to sub­mit a de­tailed sum­mary of all in­cen­tive pay­ments re­ceived each time the com­pany pro­poses a rate in­crease.

H 6184/S 879: Pre­vent­ing elec­tric rate in­creases to fund gas sup­ply ex­pan­sion

Pre­vents elec­tric dis­tri­bu­tion com­pa­nies from charg­ing elec­tric cus­tomers costs re­lated to the con­struc­tion or ex­pan­sion of nat­u­ral gas pipe­lines or re­lated fa­cil­i­ties.

H 6188/S 876: Low­er­ing en­ergy costs by lim­it­ing prof­its through rev­enue de­cou­pling

In states with­out rev­enue de­cou­pling, a util­ity com­pany’s rev­enue is tied to its sales. In states with rev­enue de­cou­pling, like Rhode Is­land, a util­ity com­pany’s rev­enue is tied to a formula and not its sales. This formula is de­signed to re­duce risk to a util­ity’s share­hold­ers. This bill per­mits the Pub­lic Util­i­ties Com­mis­sion to take the re­duced risk into ac­count when set­ting a util­ity com­pany’s ap­proved profit level, which re­duces elec­tric rates and saves money for all ratepay­ers.

H 6190/S 886: Im­prov­ing util­ity re­spon­sive­ness to ratepay­ers

Re­quires all pub­lic util­i­ties to pro­vide prompt and ad­e­quate cus­tomer ser­vice to their ratepay­ers in­clud­ing: timely in­stal­la­tion of new and up­graded ser­vice; sta­tus up­dates re­gard­ing in­stal­la­tion and up­grade wait times; item­ized bills to ratepay­ers fol­low­ing any in­stal­la­tion, con­struc­tion, site visit or ser­vice and item­ized writ­ten es­ti­mates prior to any in­stal­la­tion, con­struc­tion, site visit or other ser­vice. Ratepay­ers may re­port cus­tomer ser­vice com­plaints to the Divi­sion of Pub­lic Util­i­ties and Car­ri­ers, which shall promptly in­ves­ti­gate and rule on such com­plaints.

“Ratepay­ers in Rhode Is­land face some of the high­est en­ergy costs in the coun­try. For small busi­nesses, high en­ergy costs can sti­fle ex­pan­sion and in­no­va­tion, and serve as an ob­sta­cle to a thriv­ing busi­ness cli­mate. For res­i­den­tial ratepay­ers, high elec­tric bills can stretch hard-earned dol­lars to the limit,” said McKee. “It’s time to get se­ri­ous about low­er­ing en­ergy costs in Rhode Is­land by bal­anc­ing the in­ter­ests of the share­holder and the ratepayer. The Ratepayer Pro­tec­tion Leg­isla­tive Pack­age does just that.”

This leg­isla­tive pack­age is part of Lt. Gover­nor McKee's on­go­ing ef­fort as Chair of the Small Busi­ness Ad­vo­cacy Coun­cil to lower en­ergy costs and cre­ate a small busi­ness friendly en­vi­ron­ment in the Ocean State.

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