Public advocate slams Delmarva Power’s rate hike request

Charles MegginsonBusiness, Headlines

Public advocate slams Delmarva Power's rate hike request

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Delaware’s public advocate is speaking out against Delmarva Power’s plan to increase its electric distribution rates by $72.3 million.

“As customers are struggling to pay bills, Delmarva Power is seeking one of the largest electric distribution rate increases we have ever seen,” said Public Advocate Andrew Slater. “Simply put, reliability is extremely important but so, too, is affordability.

Delaware Public Advocate Andrew Slater

Andrew Slater

The role of the public advocate is to advocate for the lowest reasonable rates for residential and small commercial utility consumers, consistent with a fair distribution of rates and maintaining reliable utility service.

Delmarva Power on Dec. 15 filed an application with the Public Service Commission to increase its electric distribution rates.

“No customer should have to choose between paying for their utility service or paying for other essential needs,” Slater said said. “It’s long past time costs are reined in just as many of their customers are trying to do.”

Under state law, the increase becomes effective on a temporary basis July 15, 2023, subject to refund pending a final decision by the Public Service Commission.

Delmarva Power’s request for an increase in electric distribution rates comes on the heels of a $16.7 million increase approved by the Public Service Commission on Aug. 5, 2021.

If approved as requested, Delmarva Power residential and residential electric space heating customers will experience an additional increase of 8.35% and 13.2%, respectively, in their electric distribution charges.

According to the public advocate’s office, a typical residential non-space heating customer using 844 kWh per month would see an additional increase of $10.41 per month to their total bill, and a residential space heating customer would see an additional increase of more than $11 per month to their total bill.

The requested distribution rate increase of roughly 25% follows a nearly 60% increase in natural gas supply rates over the past two years.

In a news release, Doug Mokoid, Delmarva Power region president, said the company is “laser-focused” on meeting customers’ needs while maintaining reasonable rates.

“Our region has experienced higher costs for goods and services and ongoing climate-related impacts that make this request necessary to allow us to continue delivering the quality service our customers deserve,” Mokoid said.

Delmarva Power’s reliability is in the first quartile of all U.S. utilities for reliability.

“Even so, Delmarva Power intends to spend $430 million on plant over the next three years. This represents an increase of 155% over Delmarva’s 2019 plant spending,” said a press release from the Division of the Public Advocate.

The Public Service Commission will hold a public comment session once a procedural schedule is established.

Written comments may be sent by mail to Delaware Public Service Commission, Docket No. 22-0897, 861 Silver Lake Boulevard, Suite 100, Dover, DE 19904, or by e-mail to [email protected], Attn: Docket No. 22-0897.

Delawareans can contact Energize Delaware about its Home Performance with Energy Star, and Home Energy Counseling and Check-Up programs. Those programs could potentially produce energy savings.

Additional programs, such as weatherization and the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program may be able to help customers save on energy costs.

Customers can review eligibility requirements for both programs by calling 302-504-6111 for the Weatherization Assistance Program and by calling Catholic Charities for LIHEAP assistance at 302-654-9295 (New Castle County), 302-674-1782 (Kent County), or 302-856-6310 (Sussex County).

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