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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Dr. Rajnish Barua named Executive Director of the Delaware PSC

DOVER – Dr. Rajnish (Raj) Barua has been selected to serve as the new executive director of the Delaware Public Service Commission (PSC), filling the position to be vacated by Robert Howatt this month. Dr. Barua will begin his tenure as executive director on June 1.

“Raj brings an amazing depth and breadth of regulatory policy experience to the DEPSC. In addition to management experience, he has taught energy policy at the University of Delaware, served on the operating committee of NERC, and has extensively trained energy regulators internationally,” said PSC Chairman, Dallas Winslow.

Dr. Barua, a resident of Newark, has nearly three decades of experience in regulatory policy, restructuring of the electric industry, regional energy markets, and other related matters. Most recently he served as executive director of the National Regulatory Research Institute. Prior to that he was executive director of the Organization of PJM States Inc., energy advisor to the chairman of the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission, director of the Integrated Resource Planning Division of the Maryland Public Service Commission, a regulatory policy administrator with the Delaware Public Service Commission, and deputy principal assistant to the Delaware Division of the Public Advocate. Dr. Barua holds a PhD from the University of Delaware, specializing in energy policy.

Mr. Howatt retires from the executive director post after fifteen years with the PSC, serving in a variety of roles. While serving as director, he led several important initiatives involving the PSC staff, including the $6.8 billion Exelon-Pepco Holdings Inc. merger proceeding, which was a significant win for Delaware utility ratepayers.

“I’d like to commend Bob Howatt for a job well done serving the people of Delaware and working to ensure fairness and predictability in our utility market,” said Secretary of State Jeffrey Bullock. “I also welcome Dr. Raj Barua back to service with the PSC. I know we will benefit greatly from his wealth of experience in our regional energy sector.”

The Delaware Public Service Commission works to ensure safe, reliable and reasonably priced electric, natural gas, water and wastewater services. The Commission also has limited regulatory authority over telephone and cable television rates and services.

The executive director is responsible for the planning, management and overall operation of the Delaware Public Service Commission and ensuring just and reasonable regulation of Delaware’s public utility service companies.

MEDIA CONTACT: Samantha Hemphill, PSC Ombudsman,  302-505-2741

 


Governor Carney, Governor Hogan Urge FERC to Expedite Review of Artificial Island Cost Allocation

As currently funded, $278 million project would unfairly burden electric ratepayers on Delmarva

WILMINGTON, Del. – Delaware Governor John Carney and Maryland Governor Larry Hogan on Tuesday sent a letter to members of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, urging commissioners to expedite their review of the $278 million Artificial Island transmission line project and consider a financing model that does not unfairly burden electric ratepayers on the Delmarva Peninsula.

Governors Carney and Hogan urged FERC to consider alternative cost methodologies presented in June by PJM’s Board of Managers. Under PJM’s alternative methods for cost allocation, Delmarva ratepayers would fund approximately 7-10 percent of the project costs.

As currently financed, residential and commercial electric ratepayers on Delmarva would fund more than 90 percent of the cost of the project through higher electric bills, while receiving few of the project’s direct benefits. Governors Carney and Hogan previously appealed the cost allocation to FERC, and urged PJM to support a more equitable solution for ratepayers on Delmarva.

“We remain optimistic that FERC will consider a financing plan for this project that will not unfairly burden businesses and families on the Delmarva Peninsula,” said Governor Carney. “As we’ve said all along, as currently financed, this is a bad deal for Delaware ratepayers, who would be asked to finance this project, while receiving few direct benefits. Thank you to FERC commissioners for considering our request to expedite their review. And thank you to Governor Hogan for his continued partnership and leadership on this issue.”

“Our administration has expressed our repeated opposition to any proposal that unfairly and inequitably allocates the costs associated with this project,” said Governor Hogan. “Maryland will continue to stand with Delaware to protect our citizens from disproportionately paying hundreds millions of dollars in rate increases, and we will continue to work with all stakeholders to reach a speedy, reasonable, and equitable solution to this process.”

 

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Related news:
Governor Carney and Governor Hogan React to PJM’s Alternative Financing Methods for Artificial Island Project
Governor John Carney and Governor Larry Hogan Respond to PJM Reevaluation of Artificial Island Cost Allocation
Governor Carney and Maryland Governor Larry Hogan Continue Fight Against Artificial Island Cost Allocation, Unfair Rate Hikes
Governor Carney’s Statement on Artificial Island Project Recommendations


Governor Carney and Maryland Governor Larry Hogan Continue Fight Against Artificial Island Cost Allocation, Unfair Rate Hikes

Maryland, Delaware Governors Call on PJM to Support Request for FERC Rehearing

WILMINGTON, Del. – Governor Carney on Thursday released a joint letter with Maryland Governor Larry Hogan to the Chair of PJM Interconnection’s Board of Managers, opposing the cost allocation of the $279 million Artificial Island transmission line project, which would continue to unfairly burden electric ratepayers in Delaware and across the Delmarva Peninsula.

Delmarva homeowners and businesses would see their electric bills rise to cover 90 percent of the cost of the project, while receiving little in the way of a direct benefit.

“This is a bad deal for electric ratepayers in Delaware and across Delmarva,” said Governor Carney. “I’m proud to stand with Governor Hogan to oppose the current cost allocation for this project, which would unfairly raise costs for businesses and families in Delaware and across our region. We will continue to work with the Public Service Commission, Delaware’s Public Advocate, members of the General Assembly and our congressional delegation to protect Delmarva ratepayers.”

“Since the beginning of this process, our administration has expressed our opposition, frustration, and disappointment about the burdensome costs associated with this project,” said Governor Hogan. “Delmarva Peninsula taxpayers should not have to disproportionately pay hundreds of millions of dollars in rate increases, especially given the majority of the benefits will go to other states.”

Delaware and Maryland have appealed the current cost allocation to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Governor Carney and Governor Hogan urged PJM to support a rehearing in their letter. According to the most recent cost estimates, Delmarva ratepayers would still pay approximately $250 million of the $279 million in the project’s total costs, while receiving little direct benefit.

“As a result, the average residential and commercial customer will pay significantly higher rates,” Governor Carney and Governor Hogan wrote in their letter. “For many families this simply will be unaffordable and for many businesses it could mean closures and job losses. This economic burden to Delmarva is unacceptable.”

Delaware’s Public Service Commission and Public Advocate also have urged the PJM Board to support a rehearing on the cost allocation.

For additional details:

Governor Carney and Governor Hogan’s Letter
Delaware Public Service Commission Letter to PJM Board
Delaware Public Advocate Letter

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