Setting a Higher Standard for Utility Storm Response
Dan proposed legislation that will improve the emergency preparation and response of utility companies operating in Rhode Island. The legislation calls for 5 main consumer protections:
Performance standards: The DPUC will establish performance standards for acceptable emergency preparation and response for investor-owned utility companies. Failure to meet the standards will result in penalties of up to $100,000 daily per violation.
Emergency response plans: Utility companies will be required to submit annual emergency response plans to the DPUC. Failure to file will result in a fine of $500 per day. If the utility company fails to follow the emergency response plan, the company may not recover its storm-associated costs by charging the ratepayers.
Credits for ratepayers: All fines paid by utility companies for violating this legislation will be credited back to Rhode Island ratepayers.
RIEMA liaison: Investor-owned utility companies must designate an employee to be present at the Rhode Island Emergency Management Agency when the State Emergency Operations Center is activated.
Community liaisons: Investor-owned utility companies must designate an employee to serve as a community liaison for each municipality. Each community liaison will provide cities and towns with at least 3 outage reports per day.
Leading the Charge to Return Utility Tax Windfall to Consumers
Thanks to Dan’s relentless advocacy, National Grid has agreed to use $25 million to lower utility rates and the PUC has ordered National Grid to submit a plan to distribute additional relief to consumers.
Dan was the first elected leader in Rhode Island to publicly call on National Grid to return its tax windfall back to Rhode Island consumers.
After the federal corporate tax was reduced, Dan called on the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) to order a recalculation of National Grid's current and proposed rates in an effort to secure relief for consumers. When National Grid agreed to reduce only its proposed rates, Dan continued to press the issue with the support of legislators by introducing resolutions calling on the PUC to re-examine current utility rates retroactive to January 1 when the tax relief began.
Eliminating the ‘Billing Adjustment’ Fee
Dan worked to eliminate the utility fee known as the “billing adjustment that, for years, was charged to consumers when they switched their electric supplier. Thanks to Dan’s advocacy at the Public Utilities Commission, Rhode Islanders can now take advantage of a competitive market and safely shop for alternate electric suppliers without facing unexpected and unfair penalties.
Dan has made a point to visit small businesses in all 39 Rhode Island cities and towns. Dan learned of this unfair billing practice while touring a South Kingstown business and listening to a Rhode Islander who was charged with a $1000+ fee from the utility company after switching to a competitive electric supplier at the wrong time,
The elimination of the annual ‘billing adjustment’ is estimated to have saved Rhode Island consumers over $1 million since 2015 and will continue to save Rhode Islanders millions of dollars for years to come.
Creating a safer way to shop your electricity
Dan coordinated a joint effort of the Lieutenant Governor’s Office and the Division of Public Utilities & Carriers to develop a web platform that would streamline and simplify the electric rate shopping processes for consumers. The result was the launch of Empower RI (www.ri.gov/EmpowerRI), a website that educates ratepayers about rate shopping options and how to select the rate package that works best for them.
Before Empower RI, less than 10% of Rhode Island ratepayers were taking advantage of savings realized through competitive supply. Today, nearly 13% of Rhode Island ratepayers are shopping for energy and that number is growing steadily. Dan knows that the percentage of energy rate shopping is a high as 60% in other states and has pledged to continue efforts to educate Rhode Islanders about this cost saving opportunity. Through Empower RI, Dan has also created is a safe alternative to telemarketers and door to door sales people who may not always paint a clear picture to consumers about contract terms.
Today, Dan continues to protect consumers using third party suppliers by calling for legislation to automatically return all customers to the Standard Offer when their contracts with a competitive supplier ends to prevent them from being placed on a costlier rate plan.
Dan has been a tireless advocate of improved public education in Rhode Island. As Mayor of Cumberland, he led the effort to redesign the state’s public education funding formula to create equity for all communities in state funding, and invested more than $50 million in improving district schools. He advanced the Cumberland School District to one of Rhode Island’s fastest improving districts by helping to create a full-day kindergarten program, and improve the high school’s performance scores.
Launching RI’s First Lt. Governor’s Entrepreneurship Challenge
Investing in our students’ dreams has always been one of Dan’s top priorities. That’s why Dan partnered with Millennial Rhode Island and the Credit Unions of Rhode Island to launch the state’s first Lt. Governor's Entrepreneurship Challenge (LGEC).
The LGEC is a business pitch competition that encourages entrepreneurial-minded high school students to compete for thousands of dollars in post-secondary scholarships. Under Dan’s leadership, this program will provide $9,000 to local high schools students in its first year alone. And that’s only just the beginning!
Rhode Island’s mayors, city and town managers and city councils struggle each year to balance holding the line on property taxes while delivering effective municipal services. As a former Mayor, Dan McKee knows just how challenging this can be. For that reason, he has made the Lieutenant Governor’s office a resource to municipal leaders.
Combatting the opioid crisis in our communities
As a former Mayor, Dan is making it a top priority to ensure our communities have the resources they need to fight the opioid crisis and assist families struggling with addiction. Dan is leading Rhode Island communities in the fight against the prescription opioid epidemic by holding accountable the companies responsible for fueling the epidemic across Rhode Island. Dan organized 26 municipalities to file a public nuisance lawsuit against the pharmaceutical drug manufacturers and wholesale drug distributors that made the opioid epidemic possible.
Dan is also working to connect municipal leaders with resources from the state, local businesses and non-profit organizations to help them address this issue on a community level.
Realizing tax savings by reimaging property revaluation
Currently in progress, Dan is creating savings for municipalities and the state by working to revise Rhode Island’s property revaluation cycle. To work through this issue, Dan convened a Property Revaluation Working Group made up of tax assessors from across the state. In Dan’s mind, municipalities must have a voice at the State House. Giving them a seat at the table is central to Rhode Island’s success.
As a small business owner and Chair of Rhode Island’s Small Business Advocacy Council, Dan is taking bold steps to strengthen the state’s small business sector and ensure that the voice of the small business community is heard at the State House.
Bringing down barriers to small business friendliness
Small businesses are the backbone of our local economy and their success essential to Rhode Island’s economic success. To give small businesses a voice and put their concerns and ideas on the record, Dan launched a public access cable TV Show called Advance RI. The show is a vehicle that has allowed Dan to identify specific legislative and regulatory issues that are negatively impacting small businesses.
Through Advance RI, Dan uncovered a tax on kegs that is charged to brewers in Rhode Island but not to brewers in neighboring sates. Dan is calling for the elimination of the keg tax which is creating a competitive burden for the state’s breweries. Dan also worked with the Department of Environmental Management to reduce an inflated paint recycling fee charged to individual consumers and local businesses.
Improving the utility company’s responsiveness to small businesses
After hearing too many stories about local businesses and their employees being negatively impacted by the utility company’s negligence, Dan championed legislation to improve the utility’s responsiveness to consumers.
In this legislation, Dan called for all public utilities to provide prompt and adequate customer service to their ratepayers including: timely installation of new and upgraded service; status updates on installation and upgrade wait times; itemized bills following any installation, construction, site visit or service and itemized written estimates prior to any installation, construction, site visit or other service.
Creating an ‘Age Friendly RI’
Under Dan’s leadership, the Aging in Community Subcommittee of Rhode Island’s Long Term Care Coordinating Council researched current senior services and resources and prepared a strategic plan to promote healthy aging in the community. The subcommittee inventoried services, conducted focus groups with 100 older adults across the state, interviewed key providers and researched best practices. It also identified the enormous contributions our older population makes to the state’s economy.
As Chair of Rhode Island’s Long Term Care Coordinating Council, Dan and his team took this information and created the Age-Friendly Rhode Island Coalition. This group is working to implement a plan to build a community that enables Rhode Islanders to live independently as they age, with the care, support and resources needed to foster health, well-being, social connectedness and a meaningful life.
Check it out agefriendlyri.com
Supporting Rhode Islanders Struggling with Alzheimer’s
In 2015, Dan convened the Rhode Island Alzheimer’s Disease Executive Board and tasked it with the implementation and revision of a five-year plan designed to guide state response to the growing incidence of Alzheimer ’s disease in Rhode Island.
In 2017, Dan secured $30K in grants to update the state’s five-year plan on addressing Alzheimer’s in an effort to reshape Rhode Island policy and assist our state's families and caregivers. The updated State Plan will be an invaluable tool for local leaders, researchers, physicians, advocates and families as we work together to build momentum in the fight against Alzheimer’s.