Pepco Wants to Charge Residents Without Power?
Since 2007 the state of Maryland has been hit with several harsh storms that have caused power outages, especially in the winter months. Extreme temperatures, snow, ice, and wind have all affected the metro area as of late. With the most recent storm this past week causing over 200,000 DC Metro Area residents to lose power up to five days.
Now Pepco is thinking about raising their electricity rates for their customers including the people who suffered without power for days. For several years now, Maryland regulators have advised Pepco to raise their rates to recover money lost when electric usage drops. Though Pepco has not done anything to that effect as of yet, it is thinking of doing something now.
Eric Friedman the director of Montgomery County Office of Consumer Protection claims, “They are paying for delivery of electricity they did not receive.”
Generally the rule of thumb for electricity bills is that power distribution rates are down when customers use more, and adjusted upward when customers use less electricity. As for the month of January, it has not been determined yet which way the rates will go.
This situation is increasing support for a complicated action known as “bill stabilization adjustment,” which would hopefully stabilize energy costs. However, some Maryland residents fear that if companies like Pepco get the same rate of return once outages occur, they will have less of an incentive to restore power.
Pepco today no longer generates power themselves, and a delivery cost is the main concern of the service provider.
But being charged for a service when service was out of use? “That’s just mind-boggling,” said Michael Weiner of Gaithersburg a resident with a family who went without power for five days this previous week.
The blackouts that Pepco customers in the metropolitan area have experienced count for 70% more outages than other residents of major metro areas with utilities.
In a national survey of everyday reliability Pepco has been found to rank near the bottom, with a decline for the past five years. This is leaving many Pepco customers highly upset with their monopolistic electric provider.
So should every dollar be returned to the customers of the metro area who have experienced these outages and bad service from Pepco?
The money that Pepco has collected since 2007 during outages is believed by residents to be highly unfair, to say the least. Pepco has earned “ill-gotten gains” according to Roger Berliner, a member of the Montgomery County Council, as he believes that Pepco should return every dollar to the consumers as a step towards making things right.