Effectively immediately, Pepco and BGE customers will not be charged for sales lost during the first 24 hours of major storm power outages, by order of the Maryland Public Service Commission.
Area residents this summer were outraged to find themselves charged for power during the weeklong outages caused by the June 29 derecho. The charges came as part of a Bill Stabilization Adjustment program, which allowed utilities to bill customers for the first 24 hours after a power outage, effectively charging customers for power when they have none.
The program was designed to increase efficiency, according to the commission. Friday's orders, affecting Baltimore Gas and Electric Company, Delmarva Power and Light Company, Potomac Electric Power Company and the Southern Maryland Electric Cooperative, removes the “burden” of paying for power lost during major storms, according to a commission news release.
Bill stabilization policies were revised in January 2012 to exclude charging customers for most storm-related outages, according to the commission. Today's order precludes the power companies from charging for all sales lost after major outage events, including the first 24 hours.
“The commission based its decision on the very real financial and quality-of-life hardships customers already face during major outage events, such as spoiled food; lost business and employment income; hotel, meal and medical-related expenses; and costs for generators and fuel, home repairs and pet care,” the release stated.
The commission also stated that the BSA policy was an ineffective financial incentive for power companies to produce reliable energy, and that it was demoralizing for customers.
Today’s order comes amid furious preparation for Hurricane Sandy, which has already killed more than 20 people in Jamaica and Haiti, causing Gov. Martin O’Malley to declare a state of emergency Friday morning.