Some Delaware Businesses May be Overpaying for Electricity

DOVER – The Delaware Division of the Public Advocate and the Delaware Public Service Commission are urging medium and large businesses that get their electricity from Delmarva Power to contact the utility immediately and ask if they qualify for lower billing rates.

This call to action is a result of a recent investigation conducted by the Public Advocate and staff of the Public Service Commission (PSC), which revealed that more than 5,000 commercial customers of Delmarva Power may be paying higher rates for electricity than their usage warrants.

“Delmarva Power’s commercial customers who qualify for a lower rate are entitled to that rate. Until there is a long-term solution in place, it is extremely important that customers contact Delmarva Power to find out if they are eligible,” said Public Advocate Drew Slater.

The Public Advocate and PSC staff are working with Delmarva on a plan to resolve this issue. However, at this time, it is recommended that all commercial customers receiving Medium General Service (MGS) or Large General Service (LGS) from Delmarva Power call the utility at 1-800-375-7117. When speaking with a customer service representative, customers should be sure to ask, “Do I qualify for a lower rate?” Rate classifications typically can be found on page two of a customer’s electric bill, under “Details of Your Electric Charges.”

“This issue came to light a few months ago and has the potential to impact businesses of all sizes throughout Delaware. We look forward to working collaboratively with Delmarva Power to resolve this issue as soon as practicably possible,” said Matt Hartigan, deputy director of the PSC.

The rate classification issue was first identified in a formal complaint to the PSC filed by a Sussex County business owner last year. The PSC ruled in favor of the customer in December.

The ruling generated news coverage from the Associated Press and additional customer complaints were received by the Public Advocate and PSC staff in recent months.

Picture of the Delaware Public Service Commission (PSC) logo

Upon further investigation, the Public Advocate and PSC staff learned that as many as 5,200 businesses served by Delmarva – more than 35 percent of all the utility’s MGS and LGS customers – may be eligible for lower rates. It is estimated that these commercial customers may be entitled to hundreds of dollars in savings on their electric bills each month.

 

The Delaware Public Service Commission regulates investor-owned public utilities and works to ensure safe, reliable and reasonably priced service.

The Delaware Division of the Public Advocate advocates for the lowest reasonable utility rates, principally on behalf of residential and small commercial consumers, consistent with the maintenance of adequate utility service and an equitable distribution of rates among all classes of consumers.

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Consumer Alert: Number Spoofing Targets Delmarva Customers

DOVER – Over the past week, the Delaware Public Service Commission (PSC) and Delaware Division of the Public Advocate have received numerous complaints of third-party electricity suppliers “spoofing” phone numbers in an effort to sign up households for new service contracts.

Customers report that the phone calls appear to come from the Delmarva Power emergency line or customer service department. Without identifying themselves, the callers will attempt to persuade customers to change their electricity supplier, promising savings on their utility bills.

“Spoofing is the act by which an unscrupulous company uses a phone number other than its own to call and make solicitations to customers who may not otherwise answer the phone,” said Public Advocate Drew Slater. “Spoofing phone numbers from Delmarva Power, especially the emergency number, is a dangerous and dishonest practice that must stop immediately. However, we can only do that with your help.”

The PSC and Public Advocate can pursue formal action against the company or companies engaged in this activity, but only if the name of the company is known.

Picture of the Delaware Public Service Commission (PSC) logoIf you receive a call like this, do not provide any personal information, including your account number. Ask the caller for the name of the company they are representing, and report it immediately by calling the Public Advocate at 302-241-2555.

Do not agree to accept any offers or change your electricity service until you have had the opportunity to thoroughly review the terms in writing.

“These actions reflect poorly on legitimate third-party electric suppliers serving Delaware,” said Raj Barua, Executive Director of the PSC. “I strongly encourage all suppliers to comply with the Public Service Commission’s rules and regulations regarding solicitation of customers before more formal action is taken.”

Under Delaware law, households and businesses are entitled to choose their electricity supplier from an approved list of companies that are licensed by the PSC. These third-party suppliers offer a variety of pricing plans and structures; consumers are encouraged to compare and choose the best option for them.

The Delaware Public Service Commission regulates investor-owned public utilities and works to ensure safe, reliable and reasonably priced service.

The Delaware Division of the Public Advocate advocates for the lowest reasonable utility rates, principally on behalf of residential and small commercial consumers, consistent with the maintenance of adequate utility service and an equitable distribution of rates among all classes of consumers.

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Customer Complaint Leads to Refunds for Delmarva Power Customers

DOVER – Spurred by a single complaint from a customer, Delmarva Power will soon issue refunds to thousands of customers impacted by a recently identified billing error.

The New Castle County resident called the Division of the Public Advocate’s office in August with a question about her utility bill. After reviewing the customer’s billing history, the DPA questioned various late payment charges on her bills and contacted Delmarva Power to discuss these concerns.

As a result of this inquiry, Delmarva Power reviewed its files and determined that thousands of customers were due refunds dating back to 2015.

This week Delmarva will begin issuing one-time refunds to affected customers; the average residential refund will be approximately $15.

“This goes to show how important it is to not only pay your utility bills promptly, but to review and understand your billing statements,” said Public Advocate Drew Slater. “The old adage that one person can make a difference rings true in this case. Had this customer not contacted our office and shared her concern, an issue affecting thousands of households may have gone unnoticed.”

“I want to extend my appreciation to Delmarva Power for taking their time in reviewing this case and addressing the issue for all affected customers, and to the customer who contacted our office and brought her concerns to our attention.”

If you have questions about your utility bill, start by contacting your utility provider. Unresolved concerns may be reported to the Division of the Public Advocate, which is able to assist public utility customers. The Division of the Public Advocate can be reached at 302-577-5077, 302-241-2555, or via public.advocate@delaware.gov.

The Division of the Public Advocate advocates for the lowest reasonable utility rates, principally on behalf of residential and small commercial consumers, consistent with the maintenance of adequate utility service and an equitable distribution of rates among all classes of consumers.