Potomac Edison asks for rate surcharge

March 29, 1994|By Amy L. Miller | Amy L. Miller,Sun Staff Writer

Potomac Edison is asking the Maryland Public Service Commission (PSC) to reinstitute a surcharge paying for the electric company's energy conservation program.

If approved, the charge would raise the monthly bill for an average residential customer using 1,000 kilowatts of energy by 1 percent, or 66 cents, said Potomac Edison spokeswoman Cyndi Shoop. An average residential bill would increase from $69.47 to $70.13 per month, she said.

Increases for business and industrial customers would be 3.5 percent each month, Ms. Shoop said.

"There are more commercial and industrial customers participating in the program," Ms. Shoop said.

"The majority of the cost should be allocated to that customer group," she said.

The previous energy conservation surcharge -- which was 24 cents per month, or 0.4 percent, on an average residential bill -- was approved by the PSC on July 1. Commercial and industrial customers were charged 0.3 percent.

Both customer classifications paid the surcharge until Sept. 2. By that time, Potomac Edison had collected the $443,233 that the PSC had authorized it to raise with the surcharge, Ms. Shoop said.

The energy conservation programs, which began in April 1993, offer rebates to builders who install energy-efficient appliances and energy-saving devices in new homes. Rebates are also offered to businesses that install energy-efficient lighting.

Potomac Edison expects the savings to be passed on to consumers in the form of lower housing costs, Ms. Shoop said.

"The customer saves on installation costs through the rebates and then they will save money while in the home," she said. "The home will be energy-efficient, so it will be saving them energy."

Company officials expect to raise $6.3 million from the latest surcharge, which would appear on residential bills for five years and commercial/industrial bills for seven years, Ms. Shoop said.

"We're asking that we continue to collect without the benefit of using the earnings test," she said.

The Hagerstown-based power company, which serves 9,400 customers in Carroll County and 187,000 in Maryland, has requested two other increases this year.

The requests, filed in January, seek an increase in the fuel rate and a fuel rate surcharge to make up for a deficit in fuel costs the company has been carrying since December 1992.

Fuel rates, which the PSC allows to be adjusted to match costs, are a separate fee charged customers to help pay for running generators. If fuel costs are as much as 5 percent below the company's fee, it must request a decrease from the commission.

Potomac Edison began charging the fuel rate increase, which increases average monthly customer bills by $1.46, in February and must refund it if the PSC denies the request, Ms. Shoop said.

The PSC has not made a decision about the surcharge, which would raise average monthly bills by another 26 cents, she said.

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