Pepco, BGE to make money from power outage

BGE plans to collect as much as $600,000 from customers for not providing power after the recent derecho storm. And, Pepco, which has a much larger customer base, stands to make even more.

Both utility companies say they will be charging customers in Maryland for the first 24 hours of the massive power outages.

While some people suffered without electricity for a week, a Maryland regulation, called a “Bill Stabilization Adjustment,” allows power companies to charge customers, whether they had power or not, for that first 24-hour period of an outage.

Spokesman Robert Gould says BGE’s fee would be less than 50 cents per customer. BGE has 1.2 million customers in Maryland.

Abbe Milstein said her family easily lost thousands of dollars thanks to having to throw away food and eat out over the six days power was out at their Rockville home.

"Very unacceptable. It's not even something you would think about, having no power for that length of time," Milstein said.

For her, the idea of Pepco trying to recoup losses from the storm by charging customers like her a Bill Stabilization Adjustment is outrageous.

"I think people are finding that just completely unacceptable right now, and it's making people want to act," Milstein added.

Pepco spokesman Bob Hainey says he doesn’t know yet how much the utility will charge its customers for the loss of power.

But, that extra fee will appear on bills in September and October. Hainey said the fee “always appears as a line item.” He added, “The adjustments will vary by customer class and is calculated for all Pepco Maryland customers whether they experienced an outage or not.”

But not all customers are upset.

"A storm like this is just unheard of and unseen, and nobody could really predict it," resident Rick Zitelman said.

He adds Pepco had a huge job to contend with, but he does wish they'd worked faster.

"It would have been nice if they had a get it cleaned up a whole quicker."

But as far as Milstein is concerned, Pepco failed its customers, and she's trying to organize a movement for change.

"We're trying to increase fines, and we're trying to have accountability on Pepco's behalf," she explained.

The Public Service Commission in D.C. and the State Corporation Commission in Virginia do not allow utility companies to charge customers for lost revenue.

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