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Berliner: Pepco Rate Increase Best Consumers Could Get

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Rates will increase by an average of $2 per month, which was described as the mandatory minimum rate hike.
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Rates will increase by an average of $2 per month, which was described as the mandatory minimum rate hike.

Maryland Pepco ratepayers will see a slight increase on their monthly bill, after the state public service commission approved a rate increase. One of the utility's biggest critics says the PSC's decision was the best ratepayers could hope for.

Pepco had asked for a rate hike of 4 percent, but state regulators rejected nearly all of the utility's requests. They did, however, approve an increase that will mean about $2 more per month for ratepayers.

Montgomery County council president Roger Berliner, a big critic of Pepco, says the utility is allowed to raise rates when it institutes programs that work. Berliner says the week-long outages after last month's storm show Pepco's reliability improvement program hasn't worked thus far, but smaller initiatives have.

"For example, on smart meters, they spent $2.5 million on smart meters installing them," says Berliner. "And they work. Is Pepco entitled to recover those dollars as a matter of law? Yes, they are."

Berliner says he's encouraged the public service commission rejected the rest of Pepco's request. In its ruling, the PSC wondered whether Pepco heeded earlier requests from the commission to improve its service reliability, which ranks in the bottom half nationally.

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