Potomac Edison seeks 3.2% rate hike Fee would add $1.85 to average fuel bill

September 10, 1993|By Amy L. Miller | Amy L. Miller,Staff Writer

Potomac Edison, which provides electricity to about 9,000 western Carroll County residents, requested a two-part, 3.2 percent increase in its fuel rate from the Maryland Public Service Commission this week.

The increase, if approved, would add $1.85 a month to the bill of a residential customer who uses 1,000 kilowatts of electricity, company spokeswoman Debbie Beck said. That "average" customer's bill would rise to $69.06 a month from $67.21, she said.

Fuel rates are a separate charge on customer bills to help pay for running the company's generators. Most Potomac Edison generators use coal, said Ms. Beck.

"That is a separate line item because the cost of fuel does fluctuate throughout the year," she said. "If we find that fuel is costing us 5 percent above our current fuel rate, we are allowed to go to the Public Service Commission to ask for an increase.

"If it is 5 percent below, we are obligated to request a decrease."

Part one of Potomac Edison's request, a 1.4 percent increase, would generate $5.9 million a year. Company officials need the money because electricity sales to other power companies have declined, Ms. Beck said.

"Utilities that would generally buy from us have found other ways to supply their needs, either by buying from another source, building their own generation plant or demand-side management energy-conservation measures]," she said.

Company officials will begin charging the first increase Oct. 5. If the commission denies the request, Potomac Edison will refund the extra money, Ms. Beck said.

Potomac Edison also requested a temporary 1.8 percent monthly surcharge because the fuel rate has not covered costs for the past 15 months. If approved, that increase would generate $9.2 million to be collected over 15 months.

Maryland's Public Service Commission has 150 days, or until mid-February, to decide whether to grant Potomac Edison's requests. A commission spokesman said hearings on the rate increase request should be set within the next two weeks.

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