HAGERSTOWN -- The Maryland Public Service Commission has approved a request from Potomac Edison Co. to increase an anti-pollution surcharge on customers' bills by $2.2 million.
The higher rate applies to electric service provided on and after Dec. 3. Residential customers will see bills rise about 46 cents a month, the utility said.
The surcharge reflects the cost of complying with the Clean Air Act of 1990, specifically financing construction of equipment intended to reduce by 90 percent the sulfur dioxide emissions from the company's Harrison power station near Shinnston, W.Va.
In January, the PSC approved the use of the surcharge to recover financing costs and authorized Potomac Edison to review the expenditures every six months.
On June 4, the company began collecting $1.7 million annually in environmental equipment financing costs through the surcharge. Residential customers using 1,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity a month saw an increase in their bills of 34 cents a month.
Work on the environmental controls at the Harrison power plant, including installation of a flue gas desulfurization "scrubber" system, is 30 percent complete.
The scrubbers are intended to cleanse emissions from the coal-fired generating station to meet standards of the Clean Air Act amendments.
Potomac Edison officials said the company would spend $250 million in five years on scrubbers at the power station.
Nearly $66 million has been spent to date, with an estimated $93 million earmarked for the project in 1991.
The company has 180,000 residential, commercial and industrial customers in Garrett, Allegany, Washington and Frederick counties and parts of Carroll, Howard and Montgomery counties.
It has a request for a rate increase pending with the PSC. A hearing on that request is scheduled for tomorrow here, and a decision is expected in February.