A question on rates

Sun, 05/14/2017 - 7:15am

During the second work session on the Water and Sewer Department recommended 2018 budgets, Commission member Kathy Szabo asked the $64,000 question: “Will our electric bills go down?”

Szabo was referring to two things: one was the fact that the combined electric bills for the Water and Sewer Companies will be $105,000 for fiscal year 2018 (if the budget is approved). The second fact is that the island is now powered by the Wind Farm, and one of the selling points of hooking into the turbines was that they would lower Block Island’s famously high electric rates.

Electric bills reflecting the new rates will be sent out in early June. Water Company Superintendent John Breunig said there had been discussions about reducing the line item for electricity in the budgets, but decided it may be too premature.

“I don’t think we budget for it this year,” Breunig said. “If we realize savings in the following year, then maybe we can budget for it. At least rates will be stabilized and then we can budget for a consistent number.”

The Block Island Power Co. recently signed an 18-month contract with Shell Energy North America that will allow the company to purchase electricity at the same rate for that period of time.

The second budget meeting lasted about 15 minutes, with Commission members asking a few detailed questions on the numbers, but no changes were made from the first work session. A third work session has been cancelled.