PROVIDENCE – Advocates are again calling on the General Assembly to pass legislation that would allow low-income Rhode Islanders to pay only what they can afford for their utility bills.

What’s also new is support from green energy advocates, who say that high electric rates are an impediment to people switching from fossil fuel-burning furnaces to cleaner electric heat pumps.

Emily Koo, Rhode Island program director for the Acadia Center, said that transitioning buildings away from fossil fuels is key to reducing planet-warming greenhouse gases associated with buildings, which account for about a third of total emissions in the state.

Without addressing the building sector, she said, Rhode Island won’t reach net-zero emissions by 2050 as required by the Act on Climate, a state law enacted three years ago.

She also said any concerns that lower rates might encourage people to use more energy could be addressed by capping the annual benefit or limiting lower rates to typical energy usage.

“Progress on both affordability and decarbonization must be made simultaneously and with haste,” she said in written testimony.

The Conservation Law Foundation supports a PIPP for similar reasons, as does the City of Providence’s Department of Sustainability.

State regulators with the Division of Public Utilities and Carriers and the Public Utilities Commission raised no objections to the legislation.

Members of the Rhode Island Business Coalition, including the East Greenwich and Greater Newport chambers of commerce, are opposed because of the prospect that the program would shift costs to other ratepayers and increase their bills.

To read the full article from the Providence Journal, click here.