Case said he expects that the regulators will examine BGE's request independent of the other utilities' applications and that BGE is confident that the evidence submitted to support it will prove the need for a rate increase.
"The PSC really needs to balance the public interest and what the real needs of industry are," said Marceline White, executive director for the Maryland Consumer Rights Coalition.
Still, she said, BGE should pay for its upgrades without passing the costs on to consumers. White said she hopes the commission will reject or at least substantially limit any rate increase.
As in all rate cases, the PSC will accept written testimony and hold public comment and evidentiary hearings before rendering a decision, said spokeswoman Regina L. Davis. The commission does not discuss pending cases, she said.
The regulator is not expected to make a final decision on the requested increase before February.
AARP Maryland will likely intervene in BGE's rate case, just as the organization did with Pepco and Delmarva Power's cases, said Tammy Bresnahan, the organization's director of advocacy.
"People who have worked their whole lives should be able to count on at least their power being reliable and their power rates being stable," Bresnahan said. Retirees on fixed incomes could be harmed by a rate increase that does not seem to be justified, she said.
The Public Service Commission was not persuaded by some of the evidence that Pepco and Delmarva Power provided to bolster their rate requests.
The regulator told Pepco, which has been criticized in recent years for being too slow to restore power after widespread outages, that it would not approve rate increases the utility is seeking to " 'catch up' for past failures to maintain its electric system."
That means Pepco has to absorb $6.4 million in tree-trimming expenses and $1.5 million the company spent to defend itself during an investigation launched by the commission in 2010 after several extensive and prolonged outages.
The commission also prevented Pepco from raising rates to increase shareholder returns. It was "backward" for the company to request a rate increase on shareholders' behalf before customer service improved, the regulator said.
BGE is not requesting an increase specifically tied to paying shareholders. About 1 percent of a customer's bill goes to repaying investors, Case said.
BGE rate request
If approved by regulators, the rate increases would not go into effect before early 2013.
Typical monthly residential electric bill increase: $7.22, a 6.6 percent increase
Typical monthly residential natural gas bill increase: $4.62, a 7.9 percent increase
Source: Baltimore Gas and Electric Co.