Office of the Lieutenant Governor Daniel J. McKee: Introducing Our New Website for Empower RI

Rhode Island - Lieutenant Governor Daniel J. McKee Introducting Our New Website

by Daniel J. McKee

Too few Rhode Islanders realize they can buy their electricity from suppliers other than National Grid. Those who have tried to take advantage of competitive offers have often struggled to find the right information to make an informed switch. Some who switched have been slapped with hundreds or even thousands of dollars in unexpected charges on their bills – negating any savings they would have enjoyed.

We can do better, and now we are, thanks to a new website called Empower RI.

In partnership with the Rhode Island Division of Public Utilities and Carriers and, my office launched the site,, in January to help Rhode Islanders shop for the best electricity prices for their businesses and homes.

Empower RI allows customers to compare electricity prices and contract terms from competitive suppliers to the current “Standard Offer” from National Grid. With its usage calculator and menu of plan offers, the site makes the process of selecting an alternate supplier easier and more transparent.

Ratepayers in Rhode Island face some of the highest energy costs in the country. For businesses, high energy costs can stifle expansion and innovation, and serve as an obstacle to a thriving business climate. For residential ratepayers, high electric bills can stretch hard-earned dollars to the limit.

Empower RI was modeled after competitive energy sites in Connecticut and Pennsylvania, where a much higher percentage of customers are taking advantage of third-party suppliers. The Division of Public Utilities reviews and approves all suppliers’ offers for inclusion on the site. And if you choose a competitive supplier, National Grid will still deliver power to your home or business and respond to service calls, outages or other emergencies.

When electricity rates spiked by double digits a year ago, some customers took advantage of lower third-party rates only to see their savings eaten up by a “Standard Offer billing adjustment.” As of July 2015, customers will no longer face a billing adjustment when they switch. Last year, I intervened before the Rhode Island Public Utilities Commission, along with Attorney General Peter Kilmartin, in favor of eliminating it. The commission agreed the billing adjustment was a barrier to a robust competitive market.

I know firsthand the benefits Empower RI can bring homeowners and businesses. After we launched the site in January, I myself clicked through and chose a plan that will save my family about 20 percent over the next five months.

I urge you to try Empower RI as well. It’s a valuable tool to help small businesses and residential ratepayers get the best electricity prices. Already, it is doing exactly what its name says: empowering ratepayers to make the most cost-effective decisions on their electricity supplier.

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Avatar About the Author: The Rhode Island Small Business Journal is a printed monthly magazine and an online resource for the aspiring and start-up entrepreneur and small business owner.

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