Under the “Energize RI” program, Providence Gas Co. (ProvGas)was awarded $2.45 million Wednesday by the Rhode Island PublicUtilities Commission (PUC) for losses attributable to externalforces the utility experienced last winter. The original requestwas granted by the the PUC’s Division of Public Utilities andCarriers (the Division) in March but it was subject to PUCapproval.
ProvGas said the payment proves that the three-year program,designed to improve the state’s gas infrastructure without raisingcustomer rates or putting the utility at risk, is a success.
“The winter weather in the northeast, combined with theprecipitous drop in oil prices, was far outside the norm wegenerally experience in New England,” said James Dodge, CEO ofProvGas. “The implementation of this latest step and the settlementagreement by the parties to Energize RI address the stabilizationgoals of the program-recall that we lowered rates by 4% initiallyand froze rates at those levels for three years-and demonstratesthat the program functions for the benefit of all constituencies.”
Due to the Energize RI program, which started in 1997, ProvGasmade $75 million worth of infrastructure improvements andcustomers’ bills were cut 4% then frozen for three years. Inexchange for these benefits, the program allows ProvGas to ask theDivision for repayment due to exogenous circumstances, such as lastwinter’s warm weather and low oil prices. It also limited thevolatility of gas costs by allowing the utility to lock in gassupply.
“It really has been a win-win for everybody. For us, we wereable to recover costs and take out the peaks and valleys manyutilities experience,” James Grasso, a ProvGas spokesman said.”There is no other program in the country like this, and because ofits success, I think there is a general interest on the PUC’s sideand ours to continue it.”
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