Atlantic City Electric seeking 7 percent rate hike, partially due to Sandy damages
Atlantic City Electric on Tuesday asked the state Board of Public Utilities for permission to increase rates about 7 percent, or $12.69 more for the average residential customer using 1,000 kilowatt hours a month.
In all, the Mays Landing-based utility said it wants to raise nearly $70 million to fund infrastructure upgrades, improvements to the reliability of electricity distribution and the building of new facilities.
The base rate case also includes $16 million in restoration costs from the June 30 "derecho" wind storm and October's Hurricane Sandy.
This represents a portion of the estimated $70 million impact from both storms, Atlantic City Electric Region President Vincent Maione said Tuesday.
Maione said recent work, including 1,800 miles of tree trimming expected to be completed next year, have been valuable to help lessen storm impacts.
He said the utility plans to make more than $700 million in infrastructure investments over the next five years.
Tuesday's filing came nearly two months after the investor-owned utility received approval in October to raise rates about 2 percent, or $3.44 more on the average bills.
Those changes took effect last month.
State Division of Rate Counsel Director Stefanie Brand said her office, which represents utility customers in these cases, will begin reviewing the thousands of pages in the latest filing and hiring its own experts to scrutinize the regulated utility's filing.
But Brand called the timing of the utility's increase request "troubling."
"They did just get an increase. I think the timing of this is somewhat unfortunate given that everybody is reeling from the storm, figuring out how they're going to pay for it all," she said.
In its latest request, Atlantic City Electric, a subsidiary of Pepco Holdings Inc., seeks to increase the average monthly residential bill to $194.69, from the current $182 for someone using 1,000 kilowatt hours.
The case will be reviewed by the Board of Public Utilities and the Division of Rate Counsel, and there will later be public hearings scheduled.
The process can take a year and has resulted in lower negotiated rate increases in the past few years, including in October’s approved delivery rate increase and another in May of 2010. In that case, the utility requested about $54 million and was approved for $20 million.
Atlantic City Electric's latest request involves its distribution rates for the company to deliver power across its lines, which represents about one-quarter of a typical bill. It does not involve the portion of electric bills that represent the open-market prices of wholesale energy.
The utility has more than 550,000 customers in eight South Jersey counties.
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