Potomac Edison is again seeking more money from customers, this time a 12.3 percent base rate increase to help the company pay for compliance with the federal Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990.
This is the fifth request that the utility, which has about 9,400 customers in Carroll County, has filed with the Maryland Public Service Commission this year. Potomac Edison serves about 187,000 customers in seven Western Maryland counties.
"There is a very important reason we are asking for this increase," Potomac Edison spokeswoman Cyndi Shoop said. "This will benefit the environment."
If the increase is approved, the bill of the average residential customer for 1,000 kilowatt hours of electricity a month would rise by $8.63, she said. The increase would incorporate a 98-cent surcharge Potomac Edison requested at the end of March to comply with the Clean Air Act, Ms. Shoop said.
Public Service Commission officials have yet to rule on the request and will take public comment at 9:30 a.m. today in its offices at St. Paul Center in Baltimore, she said.
Potomac Edison had requested approval of the surcharge with a May 5 effective date, Ms. Shoop said. It proposes to increase the base rate Nov. 11.
"That will eliminate the surcharge," Ms. Shoop said.
She said base rates represent "all of our equipment costs, from the meter reader to the energy generation plants."
Company officials expect to garner $31 million from the latest request, which would include about $4 million from the surcharge, she said.
The money would be used to pay for a scrubber system being installed at an Allegheny Power System plant near Shinnston, W.Va., Ms. Shoop said. Potomac Edison, along with the West Penn and Monongahela power companies, are part of Allegheny Power.
"We picked this option [scrubber] because it had the lowest cost; it would allow us to continue to burn coal, which is important for the economy of this region; and it was also the most efficient way to protect the environment," Ms. Shoop said.
Charges to commercial customers would increase 7 percent. For industrial customers using 60,000 kilowatt hours each month, they would go up 10.5 percent increase. Industrial customers using at least 122,000 kilowatt hours per month would receive an 8.8 percent increase, Ms. Shoop said.
Since the beginning of the year, the utility's average residential customer has paid a 66-cent monthly surcharge to help fund the company's energy conservation program, a 77-cent fuel rate increase and a 26-cent surcharge to cover a deficit in fuel costs.
Fuel rates, which the Public Service Commission allows to be adjusted to match costs, are a separate fee charged to customers to help pay for the operation of generators. If fuel costs are as much as 5 percent below the company's fee, the company must request a decrease.