WASHINGTON, D.C. (WUSA) - 9 Wants to Know has learned that the controversial order that
allows PEPCO and BGE to bill for lost blackout revenue was intended to
encourage energy conservation.
"It's difficult to understand the bill to begin with, and
when consumers are alerted to the fact that there is this adjustment to make
PEPCO whole when customers are saying hey, make me whole, people get pretty
upset," said Eric Friedman with Montgomery County Consumer Protection. "It adds insult to injury."
Although the order clearly states the reimbursements are
intended "to implement energy efficiency," using it to bill customers who are
conserving simply because there is no way for them to get electricity is
Prior to OK'ing the billing in a January order, the
Maryland Public Service Commission questioned whether it "inadvertently
eliminated the incentive for the companies to quickly restore lost service to
customers by authorizing the recovery of revenues foregone during extended
Montgomery County officials objected to allowing the
utilities to use the order intended to promote green power for reimbursing
utilities when they can't bill customers because the lines are dead.
"To say to a customer, you've lost power for six or seven
days, you've thrown out all the food in your refrigerator and you're told
you're going to pay a little bit extra," Friedman said. "All because PEPCO lost money because you weren't buying electricity
because they weren't delivering any electricity."
Despite the scrutiny, the commission allowed the billing
to continue, but on a more restricted basis.
"The intent of decoupling (separation of energy and
energy delivery sales) was never to assure 100 percent recovery of costs
regardless of utility performance during Major Storms," the January order stated. "The BSAs were adopted to remove the
disincentive utilities faced to implement energy efficiency."
Officials say the order was originally intended to help utilities manage the dips in revenue created by supporting energy conservation programs.
In January, the Commission restricted utilities to
passing on costs for lost power delivery fees to the first 24 hours of the
Utility spokesmen say you won't see the cost until August
"For BGE, the impact of the 24 hour period would not
affect customers' bills before the fall," said BGE spokesman Robert
Gould. "Our expectation is that the 24 hour period will equate to less
than 50 cents per customer"
PEPCO wouldn't provide an estimate of what it would cost
its customers and officials are split on estimates.
An attorney with the state consumer division Office of
People's Counsel estimated it would be less than a dollar per person.
A spokeswoman for Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley said
it could be less than a dime for each customer.
"In the event of an outage like we just saw, they can
only apply that charge to the first 24 hours of the outage," said O'Malley
spokeswoman Raquel Guillory. "So, the
most PEPCO customers will pay is about 13 cents. For BGE customers, that
would be about 8 cents."
According to the order, Pepco has recovered the most from
customers under BSA, but that was prior to regulators restricting the
reimbursement to the first 24 hours.
In a July 2010 storm it recovered $1,392,197 while BGE
recovered $81,319 and Delmarva billed customers for $35,017 in lost revenue.
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