National Grid wants to raise Rhode Island’s energy rates by 53 percent starting October 1.
The power company submitted a proposal to the state's Public Utilities Commission last month that would increase the price of energy from 6.3 cents per kilowatt hour to 9.5 cents.
Ted Kresse, spokesman for National Grid Rhode Island, said the increase would only affect the energy supply portion of the bill, meaning customer's will not be paying 53 percent more than what they were paying last year.
"It is a 16 percent increase from the bill that people would have had last winter, I think that’s an important distinction," Kresse said.
Thomas Kogut, spokesman for Rhode Island's Division of Public Utilities and Carriers, said the average residential customer who uses 500 kilowatt hours per month would pay $17.13 more than what they pay now.
Multiple state lawmakers from both parties have spoken out against National Grid’s proposal.
Elaine Morgan, Republican senator from Hopkinton, said struggling families and small businesses won't be able to afford their energy bills.
"It’s going to be difficult, even more difficult, to live in Rhode Island and (the increase is) not making it business-friendly for businesses to come in (to the state)," Morgan said.
Both Kresse and Kogut said this hike is significant, but payment assistance programs and discounted rates are available for lower-income residents.
This is the highest increase in energy rates since January 2015 when the price went up 30 percent from 7.9 cents per kilowatt hour to 10.2 cents. Since then, costs have been steadily declining.
Energy rates in the state are determined by the Forward Capacity Market, which determines how much energy is needed to power the New England region for three years into the future. Energy rates also tend to go up in the winter because of higher demand and more competition between power generators for the supply of natural gas.
The Public Utilities Commission is expected to review National Grid's proposal at a hearing on August 22 at 9:30 a.m.