Power companies' outage surcharge angers some Maryland customers

Monday night, power companies providing service to Maryland residents got a chance to hear from frustrated customers who were charged for services they did not receive during this summer's derecho storm.

A Maryland law allows Pepco and other Maryland power companies to charge customers even when they are in the dark.

Silver Spring resident Sarah Stevens said over the past two years she's lost power several times.

"It's like living in a third world country. Every time the wind blows, every time it snows, we lose our power," Stevens explained.

Even when she loses power, she could still have to pay Pepco. Under current ruling, Maryland utilities can collect an outage surcharge for the first 24 hours customers are in the dark following a major storm.

Stevens said, "I'm paying for something I'm not getting. I'm actually paying extra because of all the cost involved."

With so much uproar over the cost to customers, Monday, the Maryland Public Service Commission took up the issue.

BGE spokesman Bob Gould testified the revenue is needed to keep up with the cost of providing service.

Gould said after the derecho, the surcharge was on average about 49 cents per customer.

But some Maryland residents said a penny is too much to pay when service is stopped.