Pepco asks for $43.3M rate increase in Md.

SILVER SPRING, Md. (WJLA) - On Wednesday, local power company Pepco announced it wants to raise electric bills for its Maryland customers.

Pepco says it is asking for a total of $43.3 million in rate increases. The company says that would translate to an increase of about $4.80 a month for a typical home.

The decision on whether Pepco will be able to raise rates will ultimately fall to the Maryland Public Service Commission.

Last year, Pepco announced it wanted an increase that translated to $7.13 a month for a typical Maryland home, but the commission only allowed an increase of $2.41.

Pepco has been widely criticized for its response after severe weather such as last summer's derecho storm, which left many customers without power for over a week.

The company says it has spent hundreds of millions trying to make its power delivery more reliable, and that is why it is asking for an increase.

State delegate Tom Hucker, a Silver Spring Democrat who is on a committee that regulates utilities, says he opposed any increase last time and he'll do the same this time.

"It should be coming out of their profits, it should be coming out of the shareholder dividends," Hucker said of the requested rate hike. "They've had a very profitable year."

Hucker says Pepco needs to show it can deliver reliable power over the course of several years before it will have any right to ask for a rate increase.

"Pepco feels like a teenager who has had a lot of car accidents and we keep giving them the keys to the car," he said.

And most residential customers we spoke with on Wednesday night agreed.

"I just think they have a lot of nerve," said Margaret Diver of Kensington. "I think Pepco should take care of the problems that they have before they increase our rates."

"I think it's terrible, if you want to know my opinion," said Matt Staswski of Silver Spring.

However, some are more open to the idea.

"If they can guarantee that it's going to provide better service, then five dollars wouldn't be too big a sacrifice," said Bill DeVeaux of Silver Spring.