EDITORIAL: Bad time for National Grid rate hike

Tone deaf utility should have to make do like the rest of us until covid economic crisis is over
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Categories: Editorial, Opinion

Ask yourself these questions.

Are you getting a pay raise of 4-6% this year at your job? Are any of your friends or colleagues getting one?

Do you think many mom-and-pop businesses in your community — the restaurants and gift shops and bookstores — are seeing a 4-6% increase in sales and revenue?

Did what you pay for food and housing and clothing and internet service go down that much this year? Did anything you pay for, other than maybe car insurance and gas, go down even a little?

Besides companies that sell toilet paper and hand-sanitizer and products online, who else is raking in that kind of additional revenue in this economic disaster known as the coronavirus crisis?

No one.

Yet National Grid, the monopoly that provides us with the electric and gas service we need to live, is seeking to raise its rates 4-6% next year in hopes of generating another $142 million in revenue.

And that’s on top of a rate increase for 2020 that went into effect just four days ago!

Say what you want about them. You can’t beat these guys for pure chutzpah.

The utility says it will use the money for upgrades and to recover from storm damage and to integrate more clean power sources into the power grid.  But don’t our rates already pay for all that already?

At this time in history, with millions of people unemployed and thousands of companies struggling financially or going out of business, is National Grid so tone deaf to the crisis that’s befallen their customers that they brazenly want to pile on with a rate increase while we’re all reeling from what’s happened to us in the last six months?

Sure, they might only raise rates on the average customer about $8 a month. But when every household dollar counts, that $8 a month— about $100 a year — can make a difference.

And that increase is assuming we don’t have a harsh winter. A long, hard winter or some other worldwide calamity that drives up fuel prices could add even more to our power bills.

Before the state Public Service Commission grants National Grid another dime from our utility bills, it needs to look at the company the way we’re all looking at our own household budgets.

What is a true necessity? What costs can be put off a year or two? How can it make do with what it has now?

Sometimes, an objection to a rate hike like this is based on principle.

Sometimes it’s based on actual hardship.

This one happens to be based on both.

They know it. And we know it.

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