After lowering bills, Washington Gas seeks Maryland rate hike

WASHINGTON — Three months after Washington Gas began passing on tax-reform savings to its customers, it is seeking a natural gas base rate increase for Maryland customers.

Washington Gas filed an application with the Maryland Public Service Commission to increase its base rates and charges for natural gas service. It said it is the first base rate increase request in five years.

If approved, it would increase the average Maryland natural gas customer’s bill by $5.18 a month, or 7 percent of the total gas bill.

Washington Gas said the proposed rates and charges would generate $41.3 million in additional annual revenue. That includes an increase in base rates of $56.3 million that would be partially offset by a reduction of $15 million in surcharges currently paid by customers for system upgrades.

Residential heating customers in Maryland have been paying $2 a month for that surcharge since 2014, which would be transferred into base rates.

The utility said the base rate increase request is unrelated to its pending merger with Canadian utility AltaGas, which is still awaiting approval from the D.C. Public Service Commission, the final regulatory hurdle it needs to clear.

As part of the merger, Washington Gas heating customers in Maryland will get a one-time $50 bill credit.

Washington Gas lowered bills earlier this year by an average of about $2 a month by passing along federal corporate income tax savings as a result of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017.

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