Tag: National Grid

National Grid’s RI Rate Increases

National Grid just got a whopping 21.7% increase in electricity charges from their lapdog PUC here in RI.

But are a few things I’d like to say to National Grid.

I know about National Grid’s history in the U.K. They essentially plundered the system there and they’re doing the same thing here. Only thing is, there’s nary a mention of it on the web because much of what they did occurred before the information age.

That said I also know two little factors about National Grid here in Rhode Island. Most of our power generation is via natural gas. Sure gas costs have gone up but nowhere near the levels to justify a 21.7% increase in electricity prices.

That leads me to another factor. A few weeks ago a blurb showed up in our local rag about the fact that National Grid was bemoaning the fact that people were using LESS electricity.

This is a tactic used by many monopoly electricity providers, and there is no doubt about it National Grid IS a monopoly. Usage goes down, rates go up. Essentially you’re penalized for conservation.

How do we solve this since the monopoly has control of the PUC, the legislature etc. due to their very deep pockets?

I’d like to see a federal law that says every U.S. citizen is allowed up to 40 hours a year to attend hearings, votes, etc. That way we can be there when they schedule a hearing at 10:30AM for instance, rubbing elbows with the paid lobbyists. We need to send a CLEAR message that we KNOW what they’re doing.

The other thing we need to do is get a bit more active in the political scene. I know so many people who have no idea how their government works, or who don’t bother to or aren’t registered to vote. That’s some shameful stuff right there. Maybe if we were much more visible to the governments, state and federal we might see some of the unmitigated greed recede.

Because my friend that is precisely what’s happening. It’s public robbery and those of us who see it get more and more incensed by the ease with which it happens to us.

The other thing that happened in RI was the removal from budget consideration the heating and power assistance program. So this coming winter some people will be forced to either live in a dark, cold and hungry state. It’s all intentional, a malnourished and scared population will never rise up, or so they think.

PUC OKs increased electricity, gas rates

01:00 AM EDT on Friday, July 11, 2008

By Paul Edward Parker

Journal Staff Writer

Starting Tuesday, National Grid customers in Rhode Island will pay 21.7 percent more for electricity and 8 percent more for natural gas, the Public Utilities Commission voted yesterday.

The commission also voted to have an independent auditor review National Grid’s financial statements to confirm the calculations that were used to support the rate hikes.

The electric rate increase, which was approved unanimously, is what National Grid had asked for. The new rate will be good until Jan. 1.

The gas rate increase, passed on a 2-to-1 vote, is less than the 10 percent the company had sought. That new rate expires Nov. 1.

For a typical home heated by natural gas, average monthly gas bills will grow by $9.60 to $129.43. Electric bills will go up $16.67 to $93.44. That would make the total bill for the year for both utilities climb about $330.

The commissioners said they were painfully aware of what their vote means in these difficult economic times.

“It seems to me there is no solution that would not be painful,” said commission Chairman Elia Germani.

“It’s unfortunate,” said Commissioner Robert B. Holbrook. “It’s unpleasant. It’s distasteful.”

“No doubt in my mind that shutoffs are going to happen. There’s going to be more of them,” said Commissioner Mary E. Bray. “How we get around that, I’m baffled.”

Bray said the state needs to develop a plan to help low-income residents who can’t afford their energy bills. “We need to do something quickly.”

But, the commissioners said, they had no choice. State law requires them to approve rate hikes when utilities have to pay more for the electricity and natural gas that they distribute to customers.

The commission could look at only three questions:

•Did National Grid act prudently when it purchased gas and electricity?

•Are the calculations presented by the company accurate?

•When should the increase take effect?

The first question was essentially answered long before National Grid even sought a rate hike. State and federal regulators had approved the purchasing plans under which National Grid buys gas and electricity.

As to the question about accurate calculations, the commission, which has a limited staff, relies largely on consultants hired by the state Division of Public Utilities and Carriers to check the math. That’s why, in this case, the commission voted to hire an independent auditor, with National Grid picking up the cost.

“I think that’s the least we can do when approving a rate increase of this magnitude,” said Germani.

That left only the question of when to institute the rate increase.

Again, the commissioners said they had little choice.

“The last thing we want to do is do nothing,” said Holbrook. “It’s a question of pay me now or pay me later.”

State law allows the utility to charge customers after the fact for any shortfall between what it pays for electricity and gas and what it collects from customers. That means putting off a rate increase would not decrease how much consummers eventually have to pay; it would only mean that they would get hit with a huge bill down the road to cover the shortfall.

That is what led Holbrook to vote against the 8 percent increase in gas rates.

National Grid, which normally gets new gas rates every Nov. 1, had sought for yesterday’s approval to be good for 16 months. That was with the understanding that the company could come in during that period seeking an interim rate change. Part of the rate for the 16-month plan would pay off an existing shortfall of about $10 million.

The Division of Public Utilities and Carriers recommended a four-month plan that does not address the shortfall. That would be looked at in the fall, during National Grid’s more comprehensive annual rate review.

Holbrook did not want to leave the $10 million hanging until November.

But Bray wanted to see what happens with the volatile energy markets. “Hopefully, things will have calmed down and adapted more.”

Germani did not like signing off for 16 months, leaving it to the gas company to decide when to return to regulators. “We should keep the company’s feet to the fire.”

Germani said he expects rates will increase again when the company comes back.

“The United States has become an energy hog,” he said, adding that the country has 4 percent of the world’s population but uses 25 percent of its energy. “The time has come to pay the piper.”Your monthly bills

Before rate hike

Electric: $76.77

Gas: $119.83

After rate hike

Electric: $93.44

Gas: $129.43

Monthly average over a 12-month period for a residential customer who uses 500-kilowatt hours of electricity a month and 922 therms of gas a year.

Source: National Grid

National Grid Raising Electric rates too

Not like we don’t pay what I consider to be obscene electric rates already, National grid who gets most of it’s energy from natural gas and coal, wants to raise electric rates AGAIN!

Currently when you factor in distribution, conservation and generation charges we are now paying 14.5 cents per kWh.

It’s ridiculous, the result of years of deregulation. They can charge whatever the fuck they want to charge and we’re powerless to stop them, our only avenue is to use less electricity. Right now I’ve got it pared down pretty far, lots of energy saving things in here.

But we’re still getting screwed. It’s time for the regulatory pendulum to swing back, time to put the clamps down on National Grid and give the Public Utilities Commission some serious teeth, all canines if possible.

National Grid now asking for another increase

I won’t post the whole article, but if you’re a National Grid employee you might want to look away because I’m going to shred the company a new asshole.

I’ll start with the most ridiculous first.

National Grid also wants to change the rate structure in a way that protects the company from losing profits and revenue needed to maintain the distribution system, if demand for gas declines due to conservation.

Right now, National Grid’s revenues are tied to gas usage. If people use more, the company takes in more money. Conversely, if they use less, the company will have less revenue.

So let me get this straight, you outright fuck your customers for years on end and then bitch and moan when they use less gas. This tactic has been used by electric utilities that encouraged conservation and then found themselves with so much excess power that they then cried for relief.

And then there’s the tactics employed by National Grid when it acquired the electric system in New York.

On the electric side we in RI pay, wait for it, 14 cents a kWh once you factor in customer charges, distribution charges, conservation charges, etc.

For gas it isn’t yet too onerous but our distribution charges roughly equal the actual gas charges. And now they want to hike those rates too.

The rate-increase request is being largely driven by the need to accelerate its program for replacing unprotected steel pipes and cast-iron mains, the company said, which are corroding faster than anticipated. Water and soil interact with these metals and weaken them over time, which has led to an increased number of gas leaks in its pipelines.

So what you’re saying is that for years Providence Gas and Valley Gas let their distribution network fall to pieces and that National Grid did no due diligence when they bought those companies? And that’s the other thing, exactly what do those exorbitant distribution charges actually pay for if not the maintenance of the network? You don’t need more money, you need to work more efficiently.

This is why I say that necessary utilities should NEVER, EVER be for-profit entities. The minute a profit motive is introduced, shareholders start expecting dividends and to pay those dividends you take money from maintenance and replacement programs to pay those shareholders. All of it so you can have a megalithic energy entity. Of course if deregulation of energy utilities had never taken place we probably wouldn’t be in this mess right now.

Deregulation NEVER benefits the consumer when it comes to utilities. The only area where it has is in telephone services. The cable companies offering phone service was a start. But the cable companies didn’t realize that their broadband network connections could carry VoIP rather well. You have to love serendipity like that.