This story was updated to include comments from BGE.
BGE and Pepco are allowed to recoup some of the money lost after the severe storm June 29 by charging a fee to be paid by customers who were without power, 9 News Now reported.
"It's the law," Pepco spokesman Bob Hainey told 9 News Now. "It's called bill stabilization."
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"The storm adjustment kicks in automatically,"Maryland Public Service Commission spokeswoman Regina Davis told 9 News Now. "The BSA (Bill Stabilization Adjustment) is calculated and applied by the companies, but checked by PSC staff and we make the utilities correct it if they get it wrong."
The charge, BGE Spokesman Rob Gould said, is in the “distribution” part of a customer’s bill; the part that covers the infrastructure, tree trimming and other non-supply related costs, and only applies for the first 24 hours of an outage.
Gould likened the BSA somewhat to taxes that pay for government services such as trash collection. During an extreme weather event “you’re not getting a refund on your taxes because the trash wasn’t picked up.” he said. “You’re still paying your full taxes. It’s similar here.”
“When the meter is not powered,” Gould said, “When there’s no service, you’re not paying for energy because you’re not using energy.”
This news comes as utility companies are coming under increased scrutiny.
On Tuesday, county executives from across the state urged the PSC to reevaluate how utilities operate and share information with government officials during an emergency.
According to Pepco's website, "The BSA is a monthly adjustment that ... will lower rates if Pepco is receiving more revenue than the PSC has approved, and will increase rates if Pepco is receiving less revenue than the PSC has approved." That way, Pepco can "promote energy efficiency programs that will help customers reduce their energy use and drive down electricity supply costs," the website adds.
The fee, Gould aid, would likely be “less than a buck.”
Such fees are not allowed in Virginia or Washington, DC.
Read more about the powerful "derecho" storm and its aftermath: