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Price Cap On Rate Hikes Could Boost Electric Bills

An attorney for Rhode Island's Public Utilities Commission is warning lawmakers that setting a limit on how much electricity rates can rise could result in even higher bills for consumers.

Utility regulators in December approved a contentious 24 percent rate increase spread over all of this year. Now the General Assembly is considering several proposals to limit rate hikes, even though National Grid is required to procure power and is allowed to recover the costs.

Some of the proposals would require that large rate increases be approved by the General Assembly before taking effect.

Cynthia G. Wilson-Frias, deputy chief of legal services for the Public Utilities Commission, told lawmakers that if they delayed approving needed rate increases to National Grid, the amount owed to the utility would continue to grow, resulting in even higher costs for consumers in the future. If lawmakers denied an increase, National Grid may be able to take legal action and argue that the law would be unconstitutional as applied, she said.



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