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5/17/2018 Rep. Slater, Sen. Crowley and George Wiley Center advocate for bill on affordable utility rates for low-income households
STATE HOUSE – Rep. Scott A. Slater (D-Dist. 10, Providence), Sen. Elizabeth A. Crowley (D-Dist. 16, Central Falls, Pawtucket), Sen. Paul V. Jabour (D-Dist. 5, Providence) and representatives from the George Wiley Center held a press conference today to advocate for the passage of the Home Energy Rate Affordability Act.

The legislation (2018-H 7900 / 2018-S 2336) sponsored by Representative Slater and Senator Crowley would create a percentage income payment plan that would ensure utility service is affordable for low-income households and to help alleviate the shut-off crisis in Rhode Island.

“The current status quo for our state’s low-income households is unacceptable and too many people are being left alone in the cold and the dark.  The people who would use this program are already struggling to get by on a daily basis and this program will protect them from being victims of Rhode Island’s utility shut-off crisis,” said Representative Slater.

“Right now, Rhode Islanders living under the federal poverty line on average spend 44 percent of their income on utilities and this puts incredible strain on their ability to pay for housing and food.  These are basic necessities in life, especially for households with children.  We cannot turn our backs on these vulnerable residents and their families and that is why this legislation is necessary,” said Senator Crowley.

“This bill will help seniors, children, hard-working parents and the disabled whose only crime is that they cannot keep up with the ever-rising utility bills we have in this state.  It is unconscionable that we would deny help to those who need assistance just to keep the lights on and the heat going.  Passing this bill is the moral thing to do and I will continue to fight for its passage,” said Senator Jabour, a cosponsor of the bill.

The act would create a Percentage of Income Payment Plan (PIPP) that would allow low-income households to pay a fixed percentage of their income for utility bills.  The percentage depends on the Federal Poverty Level of that household.  The program would be eligible to households that are at or below 150 percent federal poverty level who are enrolled in the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP).

For more information, contact:
Andrew Caruolo, Publicist
State House Room 20
Providence, RI 02903