Utilities & Internet

Headline:

The winter moratorium prevention utility shut-offs for protected status customers began on November 1, 2022. One-time credit on gas and electric charges will be distributed on or around November 4, 2022. Low-income ratepayers will receive an additional $50 credit for their December 2022 and January 2023 bill.

Last-reviewed: 3pm, Jan. 25, 2023

Key Resources:

Electric & Gas

The Basics

  • RI Energy 47% rate increase to its electricity service was approved.
  • EnergySupportRI is a new website that lists RI’s utility assistance programs.
  • On or around November 4 2022, a ~$64 credit will be applied to RI Energy electric and gas customers. Information here.
  •  Low-income (A-60) RI Energy customers will also receive an additional $50 credit on their December 2022 and January 2023 electric bills. Information here.
  • The Public Utilities Commission voted to suspend the collection of outstanding electric debt through March 2023.
  • The annual winter moratorium started on November 1, 2022.
  • The Low-Income Heating Assistance Program (LIHEAP) 2022 season began on October 1, 2022.
  • The Low-Income Water Assistance Program is open and offers grants up to $500 to help with water or sewer bills.
  • RI will be rolling out a new Heat Pump Incentive Program geared at reducing RI’s reliance on fossil fuels for heating. 

The Breakdown

  • Effective October 1, 2022, electric customers can expect to pay approximately $50 extra on their monthly bill. That said, some of this increase will be offset by the following:
    • As part of a settlement between RI Energy and the state of RI, electric customers received a one-time credit of $63.92 in November 2022.

    • Low-income electric customers (A-60) will receive an additional $50 credit for their December 2022 and January 2023 bills.
    • Debt collection on electric accounts will be suspended through March 2023.
  • LIHEAP, the winter heating assistance program season, opened October 1, 2022. Check with community action programs or visit the George Wiley Center on Wednesday to apply or renew LIHEAP.
  • The Low-Income Water Assistance Programs offers a one-time grant to help people with their water or sewer bills.
    • This is a temporary program with funds expected to run out in 2023.
    • Eligibility requirements here.
  • In May 2022, Narragansett Electric Company was sold from National Grid to the PPL corporation. Under a rebrand, Rhode Island Energy now provides gas and electricity to former National Grid customers.
    • Starting in October 2022, low-income or protected status customers may receive debt forgiveness for bills accrued before March 31, 2022. Read more here.
  • Utility shut-off protections are available. Contact Rhode Island Energy or a local Community Action Program to learn more about protections.
  • For advocacy assistance or more information, visit the George Wiley Center.
  • RI has $23 million dollars to fund a Heat Pump Incentive program. The program is aimed at meeting emission reduction goals by offering incentives to homeowners to install heat pumps. Additional details forthcoming. Read more about the program here.

Telephone and Internet

The Basics

  • The Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) offers a discount for broadband services for eligible customers.
  • The Lifeline Support is a federal program that can lower the monthly cost of phone or internet service.

The Breakdown

  • Cell phone carriers shut down 3G networks as part of a transition to 4G LTE and 5G networks. For additional information about the timeline and how to upgrade affected devices, visit the FCC website.
  • The ACP offers a $30/monthly discount for eligible households. The ACP broadens income and participation eligibility. More information here.
  • Lifeline offers support to eligible phone or Internet consumers up to $9.25/month. Read more here.
  • The FCC has taken action to raise awareness about the Nationwide Lifeline Program for affordable telephone or internet service, a benefit for which many consumers may be newly eligible during the pandemic.

Resources:

  • The National Digital Inclusion Alliance also has this nationwide resource list for free and low-cost internet plans.
  • EveryoneOn has a tool to search for low-cost internet service and computers in areas near you.
  • The FCC has an affordable connectivity program. MaxSip is one of their programs.

The Bottom Line

  • The annual winter utility moratorium is currently in place and fuel assistance programs are open to applications. Care teams can help individuals and families maintain their phone and utilities by keeping them updated about assistance programs.