In Maryland, no more paying for power you didn’t get

Utilities may not recover outage costs if 10 percent of the company\'s customers are in the dark for 24 hours. (WTOP Photo)

Kate Ryan, wtop.com

WASHINGTON — Depending on where you live, you’ve paid for power you never got.

In Maryland, that’s about to change.

The Maryland Public Service Commission issued a ruling on Wednesday that will stop power companies from collecting under something known as the the Bill Stabilization Adjustment rider, which used to allow utility companies to charge customers even for those days when a power outage left them in the dark.

The original intent of the rider was to protect utility companies for taking losses due to energy conservation efforts — but utlilities also used to collect during outages due to storms.

Last week, after studying the issue, the Maryland PSC ruled that utilities, including PEPCO, BGE, SMECO and DELMARVA, would no longer be allowed to recoup the losses during major storms.

The ruling means when power goes out to 10 percent of a utililty’s customers for more than 24 hours, the utility may not try to recover costs associated with the outage. The change in the ruling is similar to how D.C.’s PSC operates, and comes as the result of the Maryland PSC finding that the BSA riders could be, in fact, a disincentive to utilities to get the power back on as quickly as possible.

The Jan. 25 order follows a previous ruling by the Maryland PSC in which Pepco was fined $1,000,000 for failures related to it reliability.

Pepco has filed rate increase requests with the Public Service Commissions in Maryland and the District of Columbia. In the case of the Maryland PSC, Pepco is seeking a $68 million dollar rate increase, in D.C., Pepco is asking the PSC to grant it a rate increase — what Pepco calls a rate adjustment — of $42 million. In both cases, Pepco says the rate changes will allow it to continue investing in infrastructure and improvements to boost reliability.

In a statement to WTOP, Pepco officials said they did not oppose the PSC’s ruling on the BSA’s.

Follow Kate and WTOP on Twitter.

(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)


Advertiser Content