Verchinski, the Columbia resident, will see both rates go up because he uses electricity and gas. What concerns him, though, is the likelihood of another hit in the near future.

Both chambers of Maryland's General Assembly passed bills this month that would make it easier for utilities to get surcharges — up to $2 a month on gas customers' bills — for accelerating replacement of aging pipelines. If the measure is finalized as expected, BGE said it will request such a surcharge.

BGE said the extra funds — with collections starting as the work is done instead of afterward — are needed to pick up the pace on replacing old cast-iron and bare-steel pipes.

But consumer advocates opposed the move.

"The issue that we're concerned about is that they're going outside the rate structure," said Hank Greenberg, state director for AARP Maryland, which represents the interests of older residents. "We think it is both unnecessary and ill-advised to add surcharges on top of increased rates."

Baltimore Sun reporter Steve Kilar contributed to this article.

jhopkins@baltsun.com

twitter.com/jsmithhopkins

  • Text BUSINESS to 70701 to get Baltimore Sun Business text alerts