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baltimoresun.com

Delmarva Power seeks customer rate increase

BY DAVID ANDERSON, daanderson@baltsun.com

April 3, 2013

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Delmarva Power officials are seeking approval from Maryland regulators for a 5.5 percent increase in customer rates, which would affect the utility's roughly 46,000 customers in Harford and Cecil counties, among its other tens of thousands of customers.

If approved, it would support a "base rate adjustment" of $22.76 million to cover "service reliability investments already made," according to a March 29 press release.

Those investments include infrastructure upgrades, enhancements to the power distribution system, new facility construction and tree trimming.

The funds will also cover $6.5 million in costs related to storm damage from last summer's derecho and last fall's Superstorm Sandy.

Utility officials also plan to invest $767.6 million during the next five years in infrastructure upgrades.

If the entire rate increase is approved, the average residential monthly bill would grow by more than $7, from $140.22 to $147.96.

"We understand that these are difficult economic times for many of our customers and we are working diligently to control our costs, however, in order for us to continue to provide the best service possible, it is critical that we continue to invest in improving and upgrading our electrical system," Delmarva Power Region President Gary Stockbridge said in the release. "Today's rate adjustment request will enable us to maintain our schedule of implementing reliability improvements to meet customers' service expectations."

The request comes slightly more than eight months after the Maryland Public Service Commission approved a 3.11 increase in delivery rates, effective July 20, 2012.

The utility, which is owned by Pepco Holdings Inc. and serves more than half a million electric customers in Delaware and eastern Maryland – including about 6,000 in northern Harford County and 40,000 in Cecil County – sought to recoup the $200 million it had invested in "infrastructure enhancements" from 2007 to 2011, according to an archived press release on Delmarva Power's website.

The company had sought a 5.6 percent increase in order to raise $25.1 million in additional revenue, but Maryland PSC members only approved the 3.11 percent increase, which allowed the utility to raise $11.25 million in revenue.

The Aegis reported in late 2011, when Delmarva Power announced it was seeking approval, that the utility also wanted to cover the costs of repairs to its infrastructure during Tropical Storm Irene in August 2011.