BALTIMORE - Pepco is asking the Maryland Public Service Commission (MPSC) for its third rate increase in three years. The company is asking for more than $43 million in rate increase which, if approved, will become effective on July 4, 2014. The increase will raise the monthly bill of Montgomery County and Prince George’s County customers by $4.80.
“Pepco has been making significant investments in Maryland and plans to continue making infrastructure investments to meet and exceed customers’ expectations for reliable electric service,” said Courtney Nogas, spokeswoman for PEPCO. “Significant capital is needed to maintain and upgrade the system, therefore, the company requires the rate increase to help pay for those investments. These investments were made after the last rate filing, therefore Pepco requires this rate increase to help pay for these investments.”
In 2013, MPSC approved a partial rate increase of $27 million, or $2.41 per state customer. On April 19, The D.C. Public Service Commission approved a rate increase of $23 million for D.C. residents. The increase will be retroactively applied for electricity usage starting on April 16.
In 2011, Pepco was voted the “most hated company in America” by Business Insider. The company has come under criticism due to prolonged outage times, sunny day power outages, old power grids and reports of down power lines.
“Pepco should not be allowed to request a rate increase from the PSC until it can prove that it can keep power on consistently for 1 month,” said Abbe Milstein, founder of powerupmontco, a group which advocates for ratepayers’ rights.
Councilmember Roger Berliner (D-1) is one of Pepco’s most vocal critics. Berliner spoke out against the company after the Derecho storm of 2011, which left some county residents without power for more than a week after the storm.
“I continue to believe that Pepco’s financial returns should be based on its performance. While the number and duration of outages has improved since 2010 and their recent investments and actions have raised them from the lowest quartile nationally, in my view, its overall performance has not risen to the level that justifies an increase in its return on equity,” Berliner said in a statement. “It is still a utility that ranks in the bottom half of all utilities in terms of performance. That is not good enough for the residents of Montgomery County and it should not be good enough for the Commission.”
Pepco CEO Joseph Rigby has publicly stated the company plans to file a rate increase request every year for the next couple years.
“We anticipate a decision by the Public Service Commission in early July 2014. It would be inappropriate for us to speculate or comment on the outcome of a rate decision before the commission announces its decision,” Nogas said.
The Montgomery County public comment hearing will be held on May 12 at 7 p.m. at the Montgomery County Executive Office Building, Lobby Auditorium at 101 Monroe Street Rockville, Maryland 20850. A hearing in Prince George’s County will be held on May 14 at 7 p.m. at the Municipal Center Council Chambers (City Hall) at 4500 Knox Road College Park, Maryland 20740.
The meetings will be streamed live at pcs.state.md.us.