The Maryland Public Service Commission announced Friday that Maryland utilities companies can no longer charge customers for sales lost during the first 24 hours of a major power outage.
Previously, the companies were able to include the charges for electricity that would have have been delivered if not for the outage in their Bill Stabilization Adjustment calculations, according to a commission statement. Baltimore Gas & Electric, Delmarva Power and Light Company, Potomac Electric Power Company and Southern Maryland Electric Cooperative are all being ordered to revise their calculations to accommodate the ruling.
Prior to this most recent change, utilities companies were able to charge throughout extended outages. The commission revoked this policy in January 2012, but did grant utilities companies the ability to collect lost sales in the first 24 hours. Today's decision eliminates all costs to customer throughout outages.
According to the statement, the "commission based its decision on the very real financial and quality-of-life hardships customers already face during major outage events, such as spoiled food; lost business and employment income; hotel, meal and medical-related expenses; and costs for generators and fuel, home repairs and pet care."
Utilities companies can only start charging again once full restoration is achieved.
The decision comes ahead of Hurricane Sandy, which is expected to cause widespread extended outages.