Protesters escorted out by police after Public Utilities Commission approves energy rate hikes

WARWICK, R.I. (WLNE) — The biggest fear for some Rhode Islander came true Friday after the Rhode Island Public Utilities Commission voted unanimously to approve energy rate hikes for gas and electric bills.

The rate hikes by Rhode Island Energy are set to start on Oct. 1, according to the Commission.

Rhode Islanders will owe an extra $50.76 a month on their electrical bill and an extra $227.23 a year for natural gas.

Protesters outside the Commission’s building made their way inside, pleading to the Commission to say no to Rhode Island Energy’s proposal, saying raising these costs will be detrimental.

“Children will die. Children will be separated. They will not eat. Families will have to choose: do they pay their rate or do children go home in cold houses with lights off and suffer,” said a protester.

“This will lead to an increase into utility shutoff,” said Rep. David Morales.

“This rate increase will result in increased homeless, and people dying,” Donnie Anderson, a Providence resident said during the meeting.

After several disruptions, the meeting had to be put on pause.

“If they’re really committed to serving the public, then they would vote no on these rate hikes,” said Morales.

“They would reconvene with Rhode Island Energy and all the different stakeholders, and most importantly the community to ensure we do not see these record level rate hikes, which will result in evictions. Will result in  homelessness,” added Morales as he was being escorted out of the meeting by police.

Some customers will be given the option to defer portions of payment to next summer, as previously proposed by Gov. Dan McKee.

However, commissioners fear that could only delay the inevitable, predicting prices will continue to rise into next year.

Categories: News, Rhode Island