Utility surcharge approved

A million residential customers could see an extra few dollars added each month to their utility bills.

The General Assembly gave final passage Thursday to a bill to allow two large utilities to impose a surcharge of up to $2 a month on residential customers to speed a program of replacing aging gas pipelines.

By a vote of 116-19, the House of Delegates approved the Senate bill, sending the measure to Gov. Martin O'Malley, who has not said whether he will sign it. The legislation would authorize the Public Service Commission to approve the surcharge on the bills of customers of BGE and Washington Gas Light.

Proponents said the measure was necessary to ensure the safety and reliability of the pipeline system, while critics said the companies were attempting to shift the financial burden of required maintenance to ratepayers.

Michael Dresser

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