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Delmarva Power seeks nearly 2 percent base rate increase for Maryland customers

Delmarva Power is seeking approval from the Maryland Public Service Commission to increase its base electric rates for Maryland customers by nearly 2 percent.

Delmarva Power, which is headquartered in Newark, Del., serves about 5,500 residential and business customers in Harford County and about 46,000 in Cecil County, according to spokesperson Nicholas Morici.

Delmarva Power, which is part the electric power giant Exelon, submitted its application last Friday, Morici said.

The requested base rate increase, which must be approved by the Maryland PSC and is subject to change, would cause the bill of an average residential customer to go up by 1.91 percent, or $2.78, according to a news release from Delmarva Power.

A residential customer's typical monthly bill is about $140, according to Morici.

"Our customers won't see any impactto their bills until the Public Service Commission rules on the final amount," Morici said Tuesday.

The rate increase, if approved, would be the second consecutive annual increase for Delmarva Power customers. The utility requested a 12 percent rate increase in 2016, which was reduced to a 7 percent increase when the PSC issued its final approval in February, local media reported at the time.

Delmarva Power is seeking the current increase to recover $27 million, a portion of the money it invested in 2016 on improvements to its distribution system in Maryland, according to the company.

"We put in for a rate filing when we do significant work on our system," Morici said.

The prior rate increase was needed to recover a portion of the investment the utility made in system improvements from 2011 to 2015, according to Morici.

Delmarva Power spent $68.1 million on system upgrades in 2016, and it has spent more than $300 million between 2013 and 2016 to improve its distribution system in Maryland, according to a news release.

"This filing is just the initial phase to state what we spent on our investment and to request to recover a portion of that," Morici said.

The utility serves about 515,000 customers in Delaware and Maryland, according to its website. Its parent company, Pepco Holdings, merged with Exelon in 2016.

That merger put both electric utilities that serve Harford County, BGE and Delmarva Power, under the Exelon umbrella.

Delmarva noted it had its "best reliability performance in recent history" in 2016, due in part to the money it has invested in system upgrades, according to the company news release announcing the latest rate increase.

The improvements in its Maryland service area include upgrades to 56 feeder power lines, the replacement of 35.7 miles of underground cable, repairing or replacing equipment at substations, as well as power poles and transformers, plus installing "reclosers," devices that will automatically restore power after a "momentary" interruption in service.

The utility is also working on "multi-year" projects to upgrade and install new substations in its Centreville and Salisbury districts on Maryland's Eastern Shore, according to the release.

"We are committed to delivering highly reliable and affordable energy to our customers and are focused on responsibly managing costs for our customers," Gary Stockbridge, regional president for Delmarva Power, stated in the release. "Our merger with Exelon enables us to leverage economies of scale with our purchasing and resources and share best practices. Delmarva Power rates are lower than they would be absent the merger."

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