On August 24, 2018, the Rhode Island Public Utilities Commission (“PUC”) adopted an amended settlement in the Narragansett Electric Company (“National Grid”) rate case. The approved plan provides for an annual step increase over three years resulting in a cumulative $28.9 million rate increase for electric operations and a cumulative $17.4 million rate increase for gas operations. The Rhode Island PUC approved several Power Sector Transformation, Vision and Implementation Plan (“PST Plan”) initiatives proposed by National Grid. This suite of foundational investments will kickstart an initial ramp up of efforts towards meeting Rhode Island policy objectives of (1) grid resiliency, (2) grid efficiency, and (3) distributed energy resource (“DER”) integration. The settlement provides for the following PST initiatives:
- Foundational Grid Modernization Investments and Grid Modernization Plan: In addition to strategic grid investments to improve reliability and resiliency, National Grid will engage with stakeholders via the PST Advisory Group to develop a comprehensive Grid Modernization Plan
- Electric Transportation Program: Includes: (i) Off-Peak Charging 6 Rebate Pilot; (ii) Charging Station Demonstration Program; (iii) Discount Pilot for 7 Direct Current Fast Charging (DCFC) Station Accounts; (iv) fleet advisory 8 services; and (v) Electric Transportation Initiative Evaluation
- Energy Storage Program: Includes behind the meter and facing energy storage projects
- Performance Based Incentives: National Grid will implement seven incentive mechanisms to advance state policy goals and drive benefits for Rhode Island customers
The PST Plan was developed at the direction of Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo. Governor Raimondo asked the PUC, the Rhode Island Office of Energy Resources and the Rhode Island Division of Public Utilities and Carriers to establish a new regulatory framework that will enable the state and its utilities to advance a cleaner, more affordable and reliable energy system for the 21st century.
The amended settlement culminates a comprehensive investigation with robust stakeholder input and participation: stakeholders participated early in the process and the settlement establishes an ongoing framework for stakeholders to develop additional measures over the next three years. Rhode Island PUC Administrator Macky McCleary said that “[t]oday’s PUC order is another significant step in Rhode Island’s journey to modernize the electric grid, so our residents, businesses, and communities can benefit from cleaner, lower-cost energy resources.”
Rhode Island joins California, New York, and Hawaii in leading the charge toward comprehensive grid modernization. The comprehensive and coordinated approach employed by Rhode Island proved successful in obtaining PUC approval.