Winter electricity prices continue downward trend

Winter electricity prices continue downward trend

PROVIDENCE – Twice a year, at the discretion of the Rhode Island Public Utilities Commission, National Grid adjusts its electricity supply prices for both residential and small and medium business customers, National Grid announced in a press release. The electricity supply rates represent the cost at which National Grid buys electricity from regional suppliers and delivers it to its customers, without a mark-up. This cost of energy a customer uses appears on the Supply Services portion of their bill.

During the summer season, when most customers are using more electricity to cool their homes or businesses, the rates are typically lower. During the winter season, rates are usually higher, while electricity usage decreases. On Friday, July 17, National Grid submitted its proposal to the RIPUC for Standard Offer Service rates for the upcoming winter season, and for the second year in a row, the winter rates will be lower than the previous year.

“While we’re happy to see the winter electricity prices continue to decline in our region, we’re also deeply concerned about the very significant impact the global pandemic is having on so many of our customers,” said Terry Sobolewski, president of National Grid Rhode Island. “Even with a lower rate, now more than ever we need more of our customers who have never been in such challenging positions to prepare for the months ahead. We want them to learn about the bill assistance programs available to them and lean into the energy efficiency options that can help them decrease their energy costs.”

Recognizing the increased numbers of Rhode Islanders on unemployment and facing financial strains, the company said it has been informing both residential and business customers about the various programs available to help them pay their bills. National Grid also offers customers the option to work directly with a customer advocate to identify assistance solutions that meet their needs.

The new SOS rates, if approved by the RIPUC, are effective for residential and small and medium commercial and industrial customers from Oct. 1, 2020, through March 31, 2021. Electricity supply prices are determined by the market, and SOS rates represent the cost for electricity purchased at those prices. The current price of electricity between April 1 and Sept. 30 is one of the lowest rates Rhode Island residential customers have seen in more than three years. Electricity supply prices rise in the winter because of continued constraints on natural gas pipelines serving the region.

The proposed residential SOS rate for the upcoming winter season will be 10.370 cents per kilowatt hour. Last year’s winter rate was 10.957 cents per kilowatt hour. When measured against current "summer rates," the estimated monthly bill increase for a residential SOS customer using 500 kWh per month is $10.78, or 9.8 percent. Depending on the size and usage, commercial and industrial customer bill impacts would be between 6 and 11 percent.

• Energy efficiency initiatives can also help customers cut costs
National Grid said the best way for customers to try and decrease their bills and prepare for adjustments is by becoming more energy efficient in their energy use year-round. For example, replacing a minimum of five incandescent lights with Energy Star light bulbs could provide a typical savings of $9 a month and help offset seasonal increases. Recycling or getting rid of an older or second refrigerator could save customers $23 a month. Customers can visit www.ngrid.com/shop for energy efficient and smart home products while receiving instant rebates exclusive to National Grid customers. The site offers products like Energy Star LED light bulbs, water saving showerheads, smart thermostats and more – which can help customers lower their energy use. For more tips on how to lower your energy bills, customers can visit: www.ngrid.com/save .

National Grid also offers many programs to help customers manage their costs which is especially important for any customers dealing with financial hardship as a result of the pandemic:
• For customers needing more time to pay their bill they offer payment extension plans.
• National Grid offers budget plan programs to help customers spread payments out more evenly across the year. This service is available to customers all year long.
• Billing options and discount rates also are available to help eligible customers who may have difficulty paying their monthly gas or electric bill. Discounted rates are based on certain eligibility requirements.
• For more information about bill assistance, customers should contact National Grid at 800-322-3223. Customers can also visit www.ngrid.com/billhelp .

When it comes to the supply portion of the bill, most customers also have the option to choose from a variety of competitive electricity suppliers. Customers can perform their due diligence and explore other supplier options at www.ri.gov/empowerri or at www.nationalgridus.com . Regardless of a customer’s chosen supplier, National Grid will continue to deliver reliable electricity, respond to service and emergency needs and provide storm restoration services.