Zapped: Rhode Island Gets Not One, But Two, Artificial Rate Hikes
… both in today’s Providence Journal; both courtesy a misguided General Assembly.
One hike for the poor.
The Henry Shelton Act, signed into law earlier this month by Governor Chafee, creates a new state fund to help low-income families pay for their heating and electric bills, authorizing the state to develop a new surcharge for utility ratepayers of no more than $20 a year –– or about $1.66 a month. …
Senate President M. Teresa Paiva Weed, D-Newport, said that for many needy Rhode Islanders, the current utility-bill system was simply “not working.” Households previously faced utility shutoffs if they had any outstanding debt — no matter how small, according to lawmakers.
Another hike for the planet.
When the Rhode Island Supreme Court issued a ruling earlier this month upholding a long-term contract for the sale of power from Deepwater Wind’s proposed wind farm off Block Island, it was a green light for the company to resume work on the project. …
Because developing offshore wind power is expensive — Deepwater’s proposal, with the transmission cable included, will cost about $250 million and, because no similar projects have been built in the United States yet, such wind farms are considered a huge risk to investors and lenders.
But Deepwater’s contract with National Grid guarantees a source of income for 20 years, with a selling price that starts at up to 24.4 cents per kilowatt-hour. With the deal now in place, a project that was once uncertain becomes something much more attractive to banks and other financial institutions.