PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Natural gas customers in Rhode Island would see their rates increase an average of $10 a month for several months under a plan by National Grid.
The utility company asked state regulators for a 16 percent increase in gas rates that would be charged to customers from April 1 to Oct. 31. The Providence Journal reported (http://bit.ly/1ep5Xir ) that National Grid says it needs the temporary increase because it had to buy more gas than projected to supply heating customers in this unusually cold winter.
Typically, rates are set in advance for a year, starting Nov. 1, based on estimates. The utility is only allowed to ask the Public Utilities Commission for a rate increase during that period if its costs exceed estimates by at least 5 percent. National Grid says its costs for gas are expected to exceed its estimates by 6 percent, or by $34.5 million, during the current 12-month rate period.
The utility says the cold winter has pushed people to use more gas, reducing supplies, which drives up prices. Natural gas is fueling more of the electricity generation in New England in recent years, which also reduces supplies.
The Public Utilities Commission in December approved the utility’s request for a residential electricity rate increase of 12.1 percent. National Grid estimated the increase, which began Jan. 1, would add around $10 per month to a typical household’s electricity bills.
Information from: The Providence Journal, http://www.providencejournal.com