Pepco shouldn't be allowed to increase rates for Maryland customers.
So said AARP officials and ratepayers at AARP's town hall meeting on Sunday at the in Chevy Chase.
Ratepayers will get a chance to testify before the Maryland Public Service Commission at a public hearing at 7 p.m. on June 25 in the cafeteria of the at 101 Monroe St., in Rockville.
Another public hearing will be held at 7 p.m. on June 21 in the , at 4500 Knox Road, in College Park.
Ratepayers on Sunday discussed Pepco’s request for permission from the PSC to collect more than $67 million more from Maryland customers.
"Our position is: 'No more money until you improve reliability,'" said Hank Greenberg, AARP Maryland state director.
Pepco is asking for the rate increase to “cover its expenses of providing service and [to] have an opportunity to earn a fair return on its investor-supplied capital,” according to Pepco’s rate increase application, which can be downloaded from the PSC’s website by clicking here.
Pepco’s “present electric rates are not just and reasonable and do not provide an opportunity for the [company] to earn a reasonable return on the fair value of [its] property devoted to electric delivery service,” the application states.
But, “the rate payer should not be paying for improvements up front,” said Tammy Bresnahan, AARP Maryland associate state director of advocacy.
With the economy in a downturn and many Maryland residents experiencing furloughs, slashed salaries and “no cost-of-living adjustment[s] for years while the utility company still makes a profit,” the rate increase should not be allowed by the PSC, Bresnahan said.
The state’s older residents—many of whom are on fixed incomes—are particularly vulnerable to rapid increases in energy prices, she said. AARP—formerly known as the American Association for Retired Persons—is helping residents to mobilize to oppose the rate increase.
The increase—which Pepco requested from the PSC in January—comes at a particularly bad time for Maryland residents in suburban Washington, DC, because of the many power outages that have plagued the area in recent years.
In December, the PSC fined Pepco $1 million for poor service, .
Pepco should “make services more reliable and then petition for a rate increase,” Bresnahan said.
Del. Jeffrey Waldstreicher (Dist. 18) of Kensington agreed, stating that “asking for a rate increase is abhorrent to us.”
The Maryland Office of People’s Counsel, an independent state agency that represents utility ratepayers, is also against an increase.
The OPC is likely to recommend that the rate increase be only around $12 million, said Terri Czarski, deputy people's counsel.
Pepco doesn’t need a $67 million increase, Czarski said. “They budget [for reliability improvements] but don’t spend [all of it].”
“Over the last few years, “no utility in the state has gotten what they’ve asked for,” Czarski said.
Instead of a rate increase, the “$67 million should come back to us in refunds,” Chevy Chase resident Marty Langelan said.
To testify about the rate increase, email David Collins through the PSC's website.