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  • Unmoved by public testimony, PUC approves 'outrageous' National Grid rate increase
Twitter: @SteveAhlquist

Steve Ahlquist is an award-winning journalist, writer, artist and founding member of the Humanists of Rhode Island, a non-profit group dedicated to reason, compassion, optimism, courage and action. The views expressed are his own and not necessarily those of any organization of which he is a member.

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"We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.” - Elie Weisel

“If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor." - Desmond Tutu

"There comes a time when neutrality and laying low become dishonorable. If you’re not in revolt, you’re in cahoots. When this period and your name are mentioned, decades hence, your grandkids will look away in shame." - David Brooks

6 responses to “Unmoved by public testimony, PUC approves ‘outrageous’ National Grid rate increase”

  1. Barry Schiller

    As far as I can tell its all just sounding off with opponents offering only outrage and wishful thinking. And the lead paragraph of noting a 53% increase in “electricity costs” is misleading as the increase only applies to a fraction of the total electricity bill, the cost of generation.
    This has little to do with profits of National Grid which does not generate electricity, but they do maintain the grid on which they transmit the power. If the rice of power generated rises, it has to be paid for one way or another. It is no solution to let the grid degrade, that will just lead to unreliability and higher expenses in the future, we’ve been down that road with our roads where similarly motorists and truckers didn’t want to pay the increased costs either.
    Fundamentally, for lower prices we need lower costs of generation. Renewable energy is not necessarily a solution as we all heard that Deepwater off-shore wind is coming in at about 3 times the costs of conventional power.
    I do have some suggestions: reduce costs by going back to bimonthly billing that would cut those processing costs in half (similar for water and sewer bills which recently went from quarterly to monthly) establish low cost “lifeline” rates for those who use relatively little electricity even if raises rates for high level of consumption – that would give low income users who limit consumption a chance to save as well as encourage and reward conservation; subsidize efficiency programs more aggressively to reduce demand – which from laws of supply and demand can help reduce prices.

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  2. salgal

    This is all theater. Specifically opera. National Grid, BFFs with Invenergy, Spectra, Energy Transfer Partners, blah blah blah. This is the Fossil Fuel Cartel (FFC) people. The rate hike, so sadly disruptive and unfair to the folks in attendance according to the 3 PUC commissioners is the justification for the hoped for (by the FFC) approval from the EFSB of the Clear River Energy Center in Burrillville, a fracked gas burning behemoth that will destroy the forests, wildlife, birds, recreational areas, roads, peace of mind of residents, the beautiful quiet, and the environment of Burrillville and the all of the NW corner of RI. And really the whole region is at risk, and beyond.

    The rate hike is bullshit but it will be used to promise lower rates to consumers if CREC is built which is nothing but a HUGE lie. Shame on National Grid for being such assholes. Shame on the commissioners for allowing themselves to be pushed around by the FFC and the other shadow people out there, ruining everything for a buck.

    I met some people who work for National Grid recently. One man said, and this is an exact quote: You want to know what National Grid has done for me as an employee? Put me in therapy! I am now medicated for the first time in my life”. That’s just the kind of company they are. Good neighbors? Hell no!

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  3. Greg Gerritt

    The age of cheap energy is over, Thinking we can keep energy prices down is about like thinking that we can have rapid economic growth. it is a fantasy. Given the reality of the destructiveness of fossil fuel industries to our climate, air, and water there is no longer any excuses for buidling any new fossil fuel infrastructure, but we do have to admit that energy, especially in the quantities that modern societies use, is NOT going to be cheap. Focus on efficiency and use less energy while we switch to renewables.

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    1. cailin rua

      I think you’re irresponsible, typical of the kind of advocate who tunes their method toward wealthy “philanthropist” donors. Prices for net zero houses at Sandywoods in Tiverton “start” at just a tad under $400,000. That’s the starting price in a real estate market that’s already beginning to heat up. For those who can’t afford those prices what will be the alternative under a regime like yours? Is micro apartment dormitory living your solution for the rest?

      And, what about the older housing stock? How will people who hold mortgages be able to borrow on houses with lead paint and knob and tube wiring to be able to afford all the necessary upgrades to make their homes as energy efficient as you envision? If the banks won’t provide the loans because debt to income ratios are too high what happens to their property? How will they be affected by the current administrative moves toward devalorizing their property by effectively categorizing houses with lead paint, lead water service lines as toxic waste dumps and making any rewiring and energy retrofitting job impossible w/out totally gutting their properties, involving fairly complete rehabs? How many will have to short sell and face bankruptcies?

      The donors to the non-profits around here will hardly be affected by any of the coming devaluation , some of which has already occurred. Some will profit handsomely. Some, with already deep pockets will have legislation passed and work deals where they will be subsidized by those most adversely affected. Unbridled capitalism is at the bottom of most of these issues but the Isle of Rhodes and Rhode Island Foundations non-profit juggernaut careens down the hill crushing all in its path. Non-profit profiteers are very reluctant to bite the hands that feed them.

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  4. fred

    The PUC is merely a “Rubber Stamp” organization. It really doesn’t serve any useful purpose other than to provide politicians with cover for their actions or inactions. The PUC just did the same thing with the new water rates. Utilities are just another form of taxation without any safeguards. Where is the “business” sense? Who ensures the bidding was done properly? Who checks if alternatives were sought? Is there any form of Price fixing among the providers that has been checked? The new MBA price fixing is done much differently than the old country club game. Is the PUC authorized to challenge and investigate? Do they have the resources? Does anyone on the board have the knowledge to challenge? Water Rate and now electric rate HUGE increases. Crony capitalism 2, taxpayers ZERO!.
    For a bare knuckle fight over money they are true “Nothing Burgers!. Otherwise, I am sure, “Nice People”.

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  5. Bill Eccleston

    The needed lower costs of generation mentioned by Barry are on the way. The cost for generating capacity contracted by ISO New England in 2014, which is the cause the 53% increase in the “energy” side of our bills, have fallen steeply in the past two “Forward Capacity Auctions.” From the 2015 high, the settlement price fell 25% in 2016 and another 25% in this February’s auction. Where in 2014 there was a scarcity of generating capacity, there is now a surplus. While the price is not back to its 2013 figure, there is reason to believe it will take another dive in the 2018 auction. Capacity was so abundant in the February auction that not one new power plant project in New England secured a contract, including Invenergy. Shills for the industry like Mr. Gablinske play upon the public’s lack of knowledge about how power is procured and priced, and so their Chicken Little strategy of claiming we have a generating capacity shortage. If Invenergy is cancelled—which it deserves to be solely because of its outrageous location—the system will not miss its surplus power and the consumer will suffer no penalty. Incidently, 3.6 million tons of co2 per year will not be emitted into the atmosphere.

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