Baltimore Gas & Electric (BGE) is asking regulators for yet another rate increase.
The Maryland Public Service Commission is to decide whether the hike in the distribution rate is justified.
BGE is asking for higher distribution rates — the charge for moving energy to customers. The company said its request would increase the typical residential electric bill by $3.90 per month and the typical residential gas bill by $1.96 a month. Customers receiving both gas and electric would pay about $5 more, BGE said.
Along with the distribution rate increase, BGE wants approval for a 34-cent per month surcharge for electric customers to pay for improvements meant to reduce outage times.
It would be the third such increase request from BGE in the last few years.
The request would provide more than $100 million for the company in the first year.
The state regulators’ staff recommends a substantially lower increase of about $32 million — 70 percent less than BGE’s request. The state Office of People’s Counsel, charged with representing residential utility customers, recommends slicing the increase still further to $25 million.
The Maryland Public Service Commission is hearing testimony from the utility, opponents and others this week and will take comments from the public in a set of meetings next month.
Some of the feedback suggests rate-case fatigue.
“It is very difficult to face a third rate increase in four years with this case coming less than three months after the last case ended,” said John E. Abrahamson, purchasing manager for Columbia-based W.R. Grace & Co., in written testimony on behalf of large energy users. “These cases are very expensive to litigate, and it makes it extremely challenging to budget for our utility rates when they are constantly increasing.”
Increases in energy rates are inevitable as the market fluctuates; however, BGE seems to take this to the next level by raising their rates far more frequently than the market accounts for. Customers should always be aware of fluctuating costs.