Justice Bob Flanders to support Kalus’ energy plan

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE) — Former Rhode Island Supreme Court Justice Bob Flanders on Wednesday will support Republican gubernatorial candidate Ashley Kalus’ energy plan.

Last month, the Rhode Island Public Utilities Commission approved a significant increase in electric rates for Oct. 1 and is considering a large increase in gas rates that would be effective Nov. 1.

In a release Wednesday, Kalus’ campaign said she plans to roll back the 47% rate hike on electricity.

According to Kalus, the governor can declare an energy crisis in the state to utilize emergency powers.

The governor’s campaign responded to Kalus’ assertion, saying that “the Energy Crisis Management Act was passed to address supply shortages, not to roll back prices” and that “taxpayers would be put on the hook for millions of dollars in lengthy litigation.”

The Republican outlined her plan, explaining, “The governor has the ability to issue executive orders to address an energy crisis by suspending ‘any regulatory statute prescribing procedures for the conduct of statute business.’ This power could potentially be used to suspend the collection of the gross receipts tax and gas utility bills.”

“Smoothing out the increases over time so that they could eventually be recovered when the energy crisis abates,” former Rhode Island Supreme Court justice Bob Flanders said.

Flanders also presented a case as to why the collection of the 4.3% gross receipts tax is “legally sound.”

“Under this, legislation is empowered to declare an energy crisis and establish and implement programs and plans to control and regulate all energy resources”, Justice Flanders said.

Suspending the gross receipts tax would protect the well-being of Rhode Islanders from high energy costs, Kalus added.

While Kalus and Gov. Dan McKee continue to clash over how to better help residents with energy prices, the governor launched an energy assistance website that provides eligible consumers state, federal, and nonprofit energy assistance program information, among other efforts.

When asked if this proposal would avoid any legal backlash, Flanders said he could not 100% guarantee no legal response, but stood by the proposal being completely legal.

“Of course not,” he said “You can’t do anything these days without somebody potentially challenging you so no one can give you a guarantee that somebody wouldn’t challenge it.”

Categories: News, Providence, Rhode Island