Pepco power outages: Customers furious about potential post-outage rate hike
After a month of power problems Pepco could be raising rates and the reason for the increase has customers furious.
Under a little-noticed provision in Maryland law, Pepco is allowed to raise rates when electricity use drops. But the reason usage dipped, customers point out, was because of mass power outages.
"I think it's a joke," said Arman Brick, who considers the utility's ability to raise rates salt in an open wound. Brick was forced to close his Montgomery County gas station because of the recent power outage, costing him more than $4,000 dollars.
"It's laughable. It truly is laughable," Brick said. "All the groceries that were lost. We were out for three and a half days. In the business world that kills us."
Aspen Hill resident Steve Davis has been without power for a total of 15 days during the last year. This last storm left him in the dark for nearly three days.
"It takes a lot of gaul to say we're going to give you bad service and we're going to charge you more," Davis said.
Consumer advocates think this policy serves as a disincentive for the power company to restore service quickly. During this last outage 200,000 customers lost power, and many are upset that they could be hit with a rate hike.
"It doesn't seem fair and it doesn't make a whole lot of sense," said Maria Myers, a Pepco customer.
Pepco said customers can also benefit from the rule, which is called bill stabilization adjustment. The utility says customers are not charged for power they do not use.
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