Kate Leonard

Guest View: Newport City Council should not set electricity rates

by Kate Leonard, Newport City Council

I think that the Workshop presentation to the Newport City Council by Clean Energy LLC last night is one of the most important items that has come before the City Council in years. I have posted comments on my FaceBook page. I do not feel that the City Council should have the right to determine the electric supplier or rate for our Newport residents or businesses. I have been told by energy lawyers that this may actually be illegal. Rate payers are entitled to know, that if approved by a City Council vote and the PUC, that they will be automatically enrolled into a new power supplier and that this may affect their bills. Only if the ratepayer signs to “opt-out” will he/she be removed or given the choice of providers. All costs to administer this CCA Program are to be recovered in the supply rate, which means the ratepayer will pay a “fee” in his new bill seen on the energy supply line on his bill. The City Council would have three options on how to spend the “resilience” fee that would be charged or added to our bills. Is this Resilience Fee our involuntary donation for changing our energy supply provider? It is said that the fee will be used as an energy investment in local energy projects, incentives for energy transition, energy efficiency, and/or a program to implement a new Low Income Class Rate. As stated, “the money collected from the ratepayers will operate as a new enterprise fund whereby the City Council will create the program on how to spend the Resilience fees that are collected.”

I do not personally want any City Council deciding which Energy Supplier program that I will be enrolled in that charges a “fee” that may come back to the city.

To me, our biggest need is to work with our State Legislature and energy suppliers to update infrastructure to make sure there is enough energy supply to run our homes and businesses. We need to see reality, not wishes and dreams. At this time Rhode Island does not have enough infrastructure in place for 100% renewable energy using solar panels, solar farms or wind turbines. This newer technology has been growing basically with the use of Federal grant money. And if the funding stops, who will pay for this?  

I encourage you to watch the Clean Energy LLC Workshop video and share your thoughts with Newport Council members.

Kate Leonard, Newport City Council, (401) 849-4818

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