Letter: Power rates are rising; here’s what you can do

EastBayRI.com ·

To the editor,

Energy — namely, electricity — is the modern day “fire” that drives our economy. As a former administrator of the RI Office of Energy Resources and as the RI Energy Efficiency Resource Management Council’s executive director, I anticipate serious headwinds in the ample supply of electricity for residential, commercial and industrial consumption coming in the very near future.

The recent public notice by National Grid to implement a 53 percent rate hike for the period of Oct. 1 through March 31, 2018 is the first indicator of the increasing financial pain to be felt by consumers. Electricity bills will increase between 17 and 20 percent due to supply charges. What can we do to lower electricity costs?

An answer, but first let’s examine how we got here. Simply, supply, both the generation of electricity and the natural gas pipeline network, is being seriously constrained. Generation via coal and nuclear power plants around New England are being retired, thus limiting supply generation. Natural gas, the primary fuel source to create electricity, is delivered via pipeline, and although plentiful, is not in ample supply due to pipeline capacity limitations. Natural gas, with its relative low cost and as a cleaner fossil fuel, is in great demand as a home heating fuel source.

Remember, when demand for natural gas exceeds supply, as in the winter months, home heating is the priority, not electric generation. The government, having created this capacity problem, immediately needs to require that pipeline capacity be increased.

Here’s what to do before October’s rate increase: visit www.ri.gov/empowerri, where you will see a list of electricity suppliers, including National Grid, offered under RI’s Energy Choice Law. Read through the various electricity supply companies and rate offers. Choose a lower cost company and begin enjoying the savings. I am also choosing a new supplier.

Patrick McCarthy
4 Maple Shade Court

Empower RI, National Grid