The utility that supplies residential and commercial customers in the District applied to the city’s public service commission for a rate increase.
Pepco, which is now affiliated with Chicago-based energy giant Exelon, filed for an $85.47 million rate increase with the Public Service Commission of the District of Columbia on June 30. The company said it has been three years since a rate increase was requested.
Donna Cooper, the Pepco region president, said she understands the uneasiness that the increase may cause some customers.
“We realize that a rate increase has a direct impact to our customers and so we will continue to work with our customers to identify ways to reduce their energy usage and manage their bills,” Cooper said in a statement. “The reliability and infrastructure upgrades that we have made have reduced the number and length of power outages, while delivering improved service to our valued customers.”
The typical bill for a District residential customer would increase by $4.36 per month, the utility claimed in a June 30 press release. Exelon would contribute $25.6 million to offset the proposed increase, with the entire amount applied to residential and master metered apartment customers.
Exelon also gave customers a one-time residential credit of $54 in April.
The commission approves or denies a rate increase through a public process that includes public testimony and input from the Office of the People’s Counsel (OPC). The OPC is charged with advocating for District consumers in order to keep rate increases as low as possible, to ensure reliability and to educate consumers about the actions of utility companies before the commission.
If the rate increase is approved, it will not go into effect until summer 2017.
People’s Counsel Sandra Mattavous-Frye said that the rate hike will be largest ever filed in recent memory.
“OPC will be vigilant in examining this monumental filing to ensure that any rate increase is based only on the expenses necessary to keep the lights on and not those associated with Exelon’s lengthy journey to merge with Pepco,” Mattavous-Frey said in a statement. “It is alarming that the cost of living and housing trends in the District unfortunately have widened the gap between the haves and have nots. These trends demand that OPC double-down on its mission to protect District residents in every ward in every utility case.
“We must guard against decision-makers imposing policies that are dismissive and insensitive to everyday residential consumers.”
OPC also announced a merger compliance team to measure whether the promised benefits of the Exelon-Pepco merger have materialized and to decide whether to appeal a recent commission decision denying OPC’s request for reconsideration of the merger.
A spokeswoman for D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) said that the administration is committed to protecting the interests of District ratepayers.
“The Public Service Commission is charged with evaluating utility rate increases,” Interim Communications Director Christina Harper said on behalf of the mayor. “They should limit the Pepco/Exelon request to the mere requirements of the law. And they must apply the $25.4 million that Mayor Bowser negotiated, and they redirected, toward shielding D.C. residential ratepayers from any increase for three years. To do otherwise would be to the detriment of D.C. residents.”