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A Hummel Report Investigation

Mid-Year Update

Good news for electric customers looking to make a switch from National Grid - and for AMTRAK riders who use the Providence train station; bad news for former House Speaker Gordon Fox, whose address will be a federal prison the next three years. This week Jim Hummel has developments on a handful of Hummel Report investigations - one dating to 2009.

PUC hearing to drop charges - An Uneasy Adjustment.
GPS tracking employees - Major No-Show.
Amtrak repairs - Welcome to Providence.
Cove infringement on hold - A Delicate Balance.
Gordon Fox goes to jail - Original Reports.

SCRIPT

This week: our mid-year update, with new information on a handful of our investigations - beginning with an important development if you’re thinking about changing from National Grid to another electric supplier.
In April we profiled Larry Rzepecki of Pawtucket, who was charged more than $200 by National Grid after he left the utility to start receiving his electricity from American Power. The Grid called the charges a ``billing adjustment’’ to make up for the lower rates Rzepecki and others paid for their power early in the year.
The practice caught the attention of Lt. Gov. Dan McKee, who earlier this month, along with representatives from the Rhode Island Attorney General’s Office, urged the Public Utilities Commission to eliminate the charge, and to refund the close to $1.5 million dollars former customers have paid since January after making the switch.
McKee told us at the hearing that the adjustment charge has had a chilling effect on customers who are considering making a change in supplier.
McKee: ``We need to drive competition into the mix as other states have, so that consumers, ratepayers can take advantage of the deregulation that happened 16 years ago. Yet, there’s really major concerns about how that can be done.’’
Rzepecki, who also spoke at the PUC hearing, told us he never would have switched, had he known about the charge.
The PUC is expected to make a decision next week on the request and even National Grid has asked that the charge be eliminated. What’s unclear is whether the former customers will see any refunds.
Our story late last year on Pawtucket police major spending work days on the golf course has prompted the city council to soon require that every city vehicle be equipped with a GPS system.

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