National Grid has proposed to raise gas and electric energy rates for Rhode Island citizens. Rates would increase by 6% for electricity and 5% for gas, totalling about $17 more a month in expenses, according to WPRI.

The proposal has caused controversy, with Governor Raimondo suggesting the Public Utilities Commission “open up National Grid’s books,” according to WPRI. National Grid claims higher rates will improve quality of service, but many are unconvinced.

The George Wiley Center, a group dedicated to utility justice, has been organizing efforts to prevent the increase. They are advocating for a percentage income payment plan, which would take income into consideration when setting utility rates for citizens. Camilo Viveiros, coordinator for the Center, noted the importance of affordability.

“Across the whole political spectrum, they’ve seen that the percentage income payment plan is effective at decreasing shutoffs, allowing for customers to actually afford their month to month bill rather than spending months shut off,” said Viveiros.  “We had this program in the eighties and nineties in Rhode Island, and it made a big difference.”

If approved, the higher rates will go into effect September 1, 2018.