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Maryland PRC Reconsidering Storm Outage Charges

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After a summer of severe storms that caused widespread outages, Maryland's Public Service Commission is reconsidering a policy that allows utility companies to continue to bill customers, even though the power is out.

"Like salt in an open wound." That's how customers described the proposal to one Public Service commissioner, after utility companies continued to bill for service after summer storms knocked out the power for days.

Maryland laws allow utility companies to charge customers for revenues lost during the first 24 hours of an outage. Utilities had previously been allowed to charge customers throughout extended outages, but that was revised in January to allow it only during the first 24 hours.

BG&E and Pepco officials told the commission that the charges help them pay for costs associated with power restoration efforts.

The Public Service Commissioners questioned whether the policy should continue, particularly when some customers had significant extra charges after a Derecho storm knocked out power for more than a week in June.

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