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Commission Denies Pepco Rate Increase Request

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The Maryland Public Service Commission is expected to decide on a 4 percent rate increase, while thousands of residents remain without power.
Markette Smith
The Maryland Public Service Commission is expected to decide on a 4 percent rate increase, while thousands of residents remain without power.

The Maryland Public Service Commission has made the decision to deny, at least partially, Pepco's request for a 4 percent rate increase.

Rate increase denied

Pepco filed the request last December, but the Commission says the utility failed to give enough evidence to justify the 4 percent rate hike, citing what it called Pepco's "long history of substandard performance."

Instead, the PSC allowed a smaller rate increase, about a quarter of what Pepco asked for, amounting to about $18 million. The commission says this smaller increase is legally required to meet mandates to provide safe and reliable services. Pepco has declined to comment, but Montgomery County Council President Roger Berliner says the Commission sent the right message.

"It's not OK, Pepco, for you to provide substandard service year after year and expect us to approve major rate increases for you," says Berliner.

The PSC also reduced the rate of return Pepco can offer its shareholders. On average, customers will see a $2.02 increase on their monthly bill.

New round of outages

As recently as this morning, about 5,500 Pepco customers in the region are still without power after last night's storm, after a peak outage of 20,000 in the D.C. region. The remaining outages are spread across D.C., Montgomery county and Prince George's county.

Pepco spokesman Bob Hainey says Pepco is working to restore electricity to customers. "All of the crews that are out there doing the reliability work are now being pulled into restoration," says Hainey.

By the time Pepco fixes the outages though, they may have another storm on their hands.

"The goal is to get all the storm outages restored by this afternoon in preparation for possible thunderstorms again tonight."

To prepare for the upcoming storm, Pepco has scheduled extra crews for the weekend and is stocking up on supplies. Additionally, Pepco says its  looking into keeping their call center staffed overnight.

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