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New Bill Would Put 'More Eyes on Pepco'

District 18 Del. Al Carr's new state house bill would level the playing field for those testifying against utility rate increase requests.

Patch file photo.
Patch file photo.
A bill proposed this week would provide compensation for Maryland individuals and nonprofits testifying on rate increase requests by utilities such as Pepco.

The bill, proposed by Del. Al Carr (D-District 18), should be heard in the Maryland House of Representatives sometime in the next few weeks, Carr said on a conference call Tuesday afternoon. The Maryland General Assembly begins its 2014 session on Wednesday, Jan. 8.

Modeled after a similar measure in California, the bill would make it easier for residents to present a case against a utility rate increase request by covering some or all of the expenses involved in preparing testimony. Pepco and Delmarva Power together spent $1.8 million in 2012 making cases to the Maryland Public Service Commission for rate increases, and those costs ultimately were passed on to ratepayers, Carr said. 

For an individual or nonprofit to make a case against a rate increase, it can cost hundreds of dollars and hours—from filing and copying fees to time spend on research and report writing—Abbe Milstein of PowerUpMontCo (@Powerupmontco) added. 

The proposed bill would level the playing field of resources available to testify about rate increase requests, and would put more eyes on Pepco, which has been permitted by the Maryland Public Service Commission to neglect its infrastructure for years, Carr and Milstein said.

Hrant Jamgochian, candidate for the position of state delegate for District 16, joined Carr and Milstein on the conference call in support of the proposed bill, and spoke of how power outages had affected his family.

As of Tuesday afternoon, no co-filing bill had been made in the state senate, Carr said.

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