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Public Utilities Regulatory Unit

The Public Utilities Regulatory Unit represents ratepayers and citizens of the State of Rhode Island in all matters affecting the provision of public utility services as defined by R.I.G.L. §39-1-5. Such services include municipal and investor-owned utilities that provide one or more of the following utility services to Rhode Island consumers: electric, gas, water, telephone, sewer and cable; as well as all common carriers: taxis, towers, movers and limousines operating in the state.

The primary role of the Unit is to serve as legal counsel to the Division of Public Utilities and Carriers (the “Division”) in proceedings before the Public Utilities Commission. In this capacity, the Unit provides legal counsel to the Division with the principal aim of protecting ratepayers from public utilities’ efforts to charge unreasonable rates or engage in unreasonable practices. The Unit represents the Division before all state and federal trial and appellate courts of competent jurisdiction.

In 2013, the Unit successfully litigated utility issues on behalf of the Division in the areas of gas, electric and municipal water, generating approximately $31.8 million in savings and fines to Rhode Island ratepayers and consumers.

Proceedings successfully resolved include negotiating settlements with the state’s principal electric and gas utility in connection with the utility’s base rate application for total savings of approximately $18.7 million and the utility’s infrastructure, safety and reliability plans saving ratepayers a total of $5.9 million. The Unit also defended a multi-year rate increase request by a local municipal water utility and rate increase request by a sewer authority, providing ratepayers combined savings of approximately $4.64 million.

Further, the Unit participated in two proceedings before FERC. In the first matter, the Division represented the Division and the Attorney General to capture Rhode Island’s share (about $1.28 million) of a multi-million dollar settlement fund established to compensate ratepayers for misconduct of a regional power supplier. In the second matter, the Division successfully joined other consumer advocates in the ISO-NE region to obtain approximately a $2.8 million reduction in the ISO-NE’s administrative and capital budgets along with obtaining additional transparency for ratepayers in the development of these budgets.

Lastly, in proceedings before the Division, the Attorney General assisted the agency in collecting over $323,000 in civil fines against taxi, ferry, movers and towing companies for a variety of regulatory violations.