When National Grid sponsored Waterfire Saturday evening they may not have expected a dozen members of The George Wiley Center to challenge them on high utility costs for low-income Rhode Islanders. The group handed out flyers to Waterfire attendees outside a tent where National Grid was offering photographs to attendees who wanted to pose at a National Grid press podium.
The George Wiley Center members eventually entered the booth and temporarily took over the photo area to explain how a Percentage Income Payment Plan (PIPP), under which people pay a fixed percentage of their income for their utility bills, would decrease the number of shutoffs and lower utility bills for thousands across the state. The George Wiley Center has a lot of data showing how effective PIPP between 1986 and the mid-nineties, before PIPPs were eliminated to make way for higher profits for companies like National Grid.
According to Camilo Viveiros, coordinator at the George Wiley Center, “Low-income families have been suffering without this essential plan and waiting for it to come back for the last 20 years since it was deactivated in Rhode Island in the 1990s. Currently Timothy Horan, National Grid’s COO in Rhode Island has stated in a recent correspondence with the George Wiley Center that he doesn’t believe in the PIPP plan despite that fact that PIPP works well in over a dozen states, including Ohio, New Jersey, and Maine, where PIPPs continue to help low-income people afford basic utilities.”
In a letter to Viveiros supplied by the George Wiley Center dated June 29, Horan writes, “For various reasons, National grid does not believe the answer is a return to the Percentage Income Payment Plan. However we are working diligently to develop other programs to help income-eligible customers afford their electric and gas service.”
Eventually the police arrived to tell the demonstrators that they needed to stay out of the way of people during their protest.
National Grid is a multi-billion dollar British utilities company that provides electricity and gas for most Rhode Islanders. the company shuts off approximately 20,000 RI households each year while making annual profits of over $4 billion, according to sources supplied by the George Wiley Center. According to Waterfire’s website, it costs $65,000 for a corporation to sponsor Waterfire.
For more information, about the George Wiley Center’s efforts to win passage of the PIPP plan you can call 401-728-5555 or firstname.lastname@example.org. There are meetings every Wednesday at 6:30pm at The George Wiley Center, 32 East Avenue, Pawtucket, RI, 02860.