PROVIDENCE, RI – In the wake of National Grid's rate increase that went into effect on October 1, Lt. Governor Dan McKee today reminded Rhode Islanders that they can currently avoid the entire increase by selecting an alternate energy supplier through the state's online platform Empower RI (www.ri.gov/EmpowerRI [r20.rs6.net]).
Lt. Governor McKee and the Division of Public Utilities and Carriers (DPUC) launched Empower RI in 2016 as a safe alternative to shady energy sales tactics. The website allows consumers to compare electric prices and contract terms from competitive suppliers to the current "Standard Offer" from National Grid.
"When National Grid increased its Standard Offer rate in 2017, many Rhode Islanders were able to avoid the increase and save on their electric bills by using Empower RI," said Lt. Governor McKee. "As a state we have much more work to do to lower energy costs and protect consumers, but Rhode Islanders need to know that Empower RI is an immediate option available to help avoid electric rate increases today."
All plans offered on Empower RI are vetted by the DPUC. For each plan, contract terms are laid out clearly and simply. The website only allows companies to display fixed rate plans to prevent misleading teaser rates that increase mid-contract. The website also features a consumer-friendly calculator that allows Rhode Islanders to see whether they will save money by switching electric suppliers at a specific time, eliminating the need for consumers to depend on a salesperson to provide that information.
While individuals can save through shopping rates on Empower RI, predatory practices by suppliers have led to overcharging residential customers by an average of $5 million per year. Lt. Governor McKee asserts that we must do more to protect Rhode Islanders by ending practices such as door-to-door, telemarketing and other high-pressure sales tactics. Last Spring, Lt. Governor McKee announced that he plans to pursue legislation to ensure that anyone using an alternate energy supplier will be automatically sent back to the Standard Offer at the end of their contract. This safeguard will insulate vulnerable residential customers, including those not using Empower RI, from unscrupulous electric sales tactics.
Consumers with questions about how to safely select an alternate energy supplier can contact the Lt. Governor's Office at (401) 222-2371.