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Md. Utilities Barred from Charging for First 24 Hours Without Power

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ANNAPOLIS, Md. (CBSDC/AP) — Maryland utilities can no longer charge their customers extra for sales lost during the first 24 hours of a major power outage.

The Maryland Public Service Commission announced Friday that the policy would end immediately, just in time for Hurricane Sandy.

The panel issued two separate orders to revise bill stabilization adjustment calculations for Baltimore Gas and Electric, Delmarva Power and Light Company, Potomac Electric Power Company and the Southern Maryland Electric Cooperative.

The Bill Stabilization Adjustment (BSA) has drawn the ire of citizens for months now following the June 29 Derecho storm that left over one million D.C. area residents without power for days.

The BSA – approved by the Maryland Public Service Commission – was put in place to make sure electric companies recoup financial losses, as a method to encourage companies to improve their efficiency.

Prior to the stabilization adjustment, utility companies had been allowed to charge customers for electricity distribution costs throughout long power outages, but the policy was changed in January, stipulating those charges could only be applied for the first 24 hours after major storms.

Although raised rates only resulted in an approximate 49-cent raise on the average bill, community frustrations reached a boiling point with power companies raising rates without showing the immediacy citizens expected in restoring their power following the major storm.

That lack of urgency galvanized communities and local governments, with many holding public meetings imploring the MPSC to reconsider the bill – with ‘these power companies should not be rewarded for their ineptitude’ as their common message.

At a public hearing in Rockville in August, former Rockville mayor Susan Hoffmann proposed that the Public Service Commission expand its membership to “more appropriately reflect the average electric consumer in Maryland.”

“Perhaps you are too close to the issue,” Hoffmann said. “Know too much in fact, and may have unwittingly become apologists for the very utilities you regulate.”

(TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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