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Governor McKee Announces Additional Action to Combat Winter Heating Costs

PROVIDENCE, RI Governor Dan McKee and the Office of Energy Resources (OER) today announced they are taking action to provide relief on winter heating costs for Rhode Islanders following this morning's Public Utilities Commission (PUC) vote on winter electric rates.

The Administration announced $3 million in funding for direct rate relief to low-income Rhode Island residents for the upcoming winter season. Additionally, there will be a freeze on the utility gross receipts tax collected on all residential and small businesses utility bills from December 2023 and March 2024. Governor McKee proposed this freeze in the FY24 budget.

"We know that any increase in electric rates will impact all Rhode Islanders. That's why, in conjunction with the budget I signed into law which provides rate relief for all Rhode Islanders and businesses, I've also directed our Office of Energy Resources to use funds from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative to provide additional relief to utility customers who are most at risk. We're committed to continue funding ways to lower costs for residents across our state," said Governor Dan McKee.

"The winter electric rate relief program last winter supported thousands of households across the State with their electric bills," said Acting State Energy Commissioner Chris Kearns. "We're focused on continuing this effort to provide much needed direct relief to low-income constituents, while Rhode Island and the New England region face higher winter electric rate periods, when compared to winter electric rates over the previous decade. We also encourage all households to maximize the state's energy efficiency program incentives, including free home energy assessments and examine the federal energy efficiency related tax credits from the Inflation Reduction Act law."

The $3 million in rate relief funding, from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), is expected to support approximately 38,900 low-income residents across the State. The RGGI rate relief over a three month utility billing period will provide approximately $26 savings per month. Furthermore, Governor McKee pursued and worked with the General Assembly in approving $35.6 million, as part of the FY24 State Budget, a freeze on the utility gross receipts tax collected on residential and small businesses utility bills from December 2023 and March 2024. This will provide $18.3 million in savings for households and $17.3 million for businesses during the four utility billing periods.

Additional Energy Savings and Support Information:

For those customers who are not already in a low-income discounted rate program, they may apply at https://www.rienergy.com/RI-Home/Bill-Help/Discount-Rates.

Those Rhode Island residents who do not qualify for the low-income rate may still explore other options for managing the rate increase. These options include applying for more time to pay, budget planning, grants, debt forgiveness, and shut-off projections. These are explained in more detail on the RI Energy website or by calling 1-855-RIE-1101.

Rhode Island residents may also explore reducing their energy usage by taking several energy efficiency measures, such as disconnecting unused appliances, replacing old light bulbs with LEDs, or installing a programmable thermostat. Residents looking to explore further savings on their energy usage may also schedule a free home assessment through the state's energy efficiency programs.

For further information on the potential federal energy efficiency tax credits that may be available to households, please visit the non-profit Rewiring America calculator: https://www.rewiringamerica.org/app/ira-calculator.

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