By Associated Press - Thursday, October 29, 2020

WARWICK, R.I. (AP) - Rhode Island utilities regulators have approved an increase in National Grid’s natural gas rates, but because of the ongoing economic distress caused by the coronavirus pandemic, deferred half of the impact on ratepayers.

With the Public Utilities Commission’s decision Wednesday, instead of paying an additional $97 over the 12-month period starting Sunday, the typical homeowner who uses gas for heating and cooking, will pay about $48. For qualifying low-income customers, the annual increase will be about $35, The Providence Journal reported.

The monthly increases for the typical homeowner work out to $6.87 and $4.82, respectively.

By deferring collections for half of the $30.7 million increase, the commission didn’t reduce the amount that customers will ultimately pay. Because the deferred costs will collect interest, ratepayers will end up paying more.

The commission made no decision on when or how ratepayers will start paying the deferred costs. It directed National Grid to report back on the deferral by May 1.

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