Md. State Regulators Listen to Public on Pepco Rate Increase

ROCKVILLE, Md. — A proposed Pepco rate hike would cost the average residential customer in Maryland a little more than $13 a month, and state regulators heard testimony about it Tuesday night at the first of two public hearings this week.

The Maryland Public Service Commission hearing on the requested $104 million rate increase took place at Montgomery County’s Executive Office Building in Rockville.

“I am actually sick and tired of these constant rate increases,” Rockville resident Ronald Schlesinger told the panel.

Montgomery County Councilman Roger Berliner said he started a petition drive in April called “Fight the Hike,” which has been signed by more than 2,000 people.

“This rate increase is particularly offensive to ratepayers given the highly touted $50 rate credit given to customers as a result of the [Exelon] merger. That paltry sum would be erased in a mere three and a half months if the proposed rate increase is adopted,” he said.

Another opponent of the rate increase, Gaithersburg City Councilman Ryan Spiegel, pointed out, “If approved, this proposed rate increase would be the fifth increase in the last six years.”

“These never-ending rate increases place a tremendous burden on our citizens, particularly lower income families whose budgets are already stretched to the limits,” Spiegel added.

There were others who testified, urging the commission to approve the rate hike.

“The company has invested hundreds of millions of dollars in its system, and the benefits of those investments are substantial,” said Ginanne Italiano, president of the Greater Bethesda Chamber of Commerce. “Reliability has obviously improved, outages are less frequent and they don’t last as long.”

Chevy Chase resident Jean Sperling added, “We now enjoy outage-free storms, which at first came as quite a surprise. That reliability of power has been sustained, and storms no longer come with fingers crossed.”

Michelle Day with the Rockville Chamber of Commerce also had praise for Pepco. “Across the area there are fewer power outages, and when power goes out, it is restored quicker,” she said.

Another public hearing is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Thursday at Prince George’s Community College in Largo.

People can also submit written comments to the commission by Friday, Oct. 6.

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