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Pepco grid upgrades in Maryland could mean rate hikes for customers

Kenny Nails working for Pepco, fixes wires downed during this weekend's snow storm to restore power to a neighborhood in Rockville, Md., on Sunday, Feb. 7, 2010. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

WASHINGTON — Pepco is hoping to recover nearly $29.99 million spent modernizing the local energy grid by increasing rates for customers. If
approved, the average customer using about 863 kilowatt-hours per a month would see their bills increase by about 2.76 percent — or $3.51.

Pepco said the upgrades included new equipment, which has resulted in the lowest average numbers of electric outages in Pepco’s history last year and a decrease in the average length of an outage by 59 percent.

Last year, Pepco also upgraded breakers, switch gear and transformers. The company also installed about 34 miles of underground cable.

Christina Harper with Pepco said the proposed increase would still be lower than what customers were paying a few years ago. “That would be about 16 percent lower than residential customer bills were in 2011,” she said.

Acknowledging some customers may be experiencing hardship, especially as the shutdown continues, Harper encouraged residents to contact Pepco to take advantage of tools, such as budget billing. “We will continue the important work to ensure our customers have access to tools and resources that make their energy service affordable and accessible,” said Pepco’s Region President, Donna Cooper, in a statement addressing the possible rate increase.

The rate increase would first need to be approved by the Maryland Public Service Commission, a process that could last until the end of the year.

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