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PSC: MD Utilities Companies Can No Longer Bill 24 Hours After Outage

The Maryland Public Service Commission found the practice to be an additional burden on customers already facing hardships.

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.

elkridge dad October 27, 2012 at 03:53 AM
It's not just you!
Timonium Parent October 27, 2012 at 11:03 AM
I had absolutely no idea that they were allowed to charge a customer when their power was out! That makes absolutely no sense that a utility could get away with that. Asinine logic.
Alaina Elgrave October 27, 2012 at 01:04 PM
Ok explain to me what BGE was charging for during an outage. Wouldnt the charge be $0 anyway because your effective usage during the outage would be nil? Or does it mean they cant charge you for gas usage while your electricity is off?? I'm confused!
Pat Gardner October 27, 2012 at 01:28 PM
When I lost power during the "derecho" I was charged for all five days. It was near 100 degrees and no a/c. Glad this has come about.
Joe October 27, 2012 at 01:36 PM
"Prior to this most recent change, utilities companies were able to charge throughout extended outages." Charge WHAT? kWh that are not used and the meter is not reporting? The full service charges of $7.50? Just WHAT are they continuing to charge for when we have no electric?
Deborah Pratt October 27, 2012 at 02:43 PM
great decision...as in any service if you are not getting served why do you have to pay for it. In the past years MD has been hit with some powerful storms causing massive power outages..my household was one without power for 7days. Yes I have a generator..but keeping that running is expensive. Good decision
Small government October 27, 2012 at 05:53 PM
Why dont do de-regulate...open up the market and let private enterprise take care of billing problems, fee's, and outages. Maybe if .gov would stop meddling in everything private companies and free market will fix poor fee's and bad service. Just a thought.
Maryellen Brady October 27, 2012 at 07:29 PM
Because PRIVATIZATION of government services has not saved money for taxpayers, provided better services or prepared for the future, because private companies seek profits for today. There is no place across the country where de regulation of utilities has improved delivery of electrical services. MD has a better system, because under this governor, the MD PSC does its job to protect consumer interests. The EHRLICH PSC gave Constellation Energy everything it wanted and consumers no guarantees. And now, foreign investments are taking over utilities in MD. not a good idea. One thing is though the PSC did its job in the last power outage, and we will get better service this time around and we wont be overbilled by utility companies in the mean time. Some people just arent willing to give credit to govt for doing its job, but in fact govt has a major responsibility in a democracy: to be the bulwark against WOULD BE KINGS whether foreign or domestic, whether private or corporate. And O'Malley makes govt work.
McGibblets October 27, 2012 at 08:51 PM
Maryellen: Any good or service is susceptible to the same supply and demand dynamics. Enter the USPS vs FedEx and UPS. Govt has a monopoly on 'post' and they cannot turn a profit, yet FedEx and UPS CANNOT deliver post specifically to mailboxes yet they turn profits and stay in business. Without year after year in the red.
Small Government October 27, 2012 at 09:28 PM
Maryellen: You are just horribly informed. If there is money in a business, and there is plenty of money in utilities to be paid, then deregulation and the free market will fix cost, price setting, services, and fee's. It's simple if there was another company allowed to compete with BGE in MD not just for "deliverary" but for actual infrastructure and service then BGE would have to worry about service and pricing. Now they do not. It works in EVERY industry. Go buy a new car you know what allows you to get the best deal? The fact that there are SEVERAL dealerships to pick from. Anytime .gov is left to pick winners and losers they only losers are the citizens as the politicians will/can be bought and sold. Keep living in your liberal and socialist big government is better world. It simply is not the case in any market. Name ONE thing the goverment meedles in that makes a profit? Social Services? Red. Post office? Red. EPA? Works in the red. Police, firefighters, Teachers? Red and every year we hear how there is no money for them. MTA? Millions in fraud and waste surprise? They work in the red every year. The government is limited by what they can meedle in your life with. The nation was built that way and should be maintained that way. Letting the .gov control more and more is harmful to everyone.
FIFA October 27, 2012 at 10:12 PM
Well McGibblets, you are horribly misinformed about how UPS and FedEx makes profits. 1. The Post Office must deliver to everywhere, by law. 2. What do UPS and FedEx do when a package has to be delivered to a non-profitable area? They give the package to the local post office to complete the delivery which the rest of us then have to pay for. One of those dirty little secrets nobody knows about.
McGibblets October 27, 2012 at 10:17 PM
Thats what you call 'horribly misinformed' FIFA? Tell me what percentages of their profits actually come from the methods you mention and what come from what you might call 'genuine' business practice. The process you speak of is called sub contracting, if nothing else FedEx and UPS subcontracting service to the USPS is a GOOD thing for the USPS, sounding like a much smarter venture than ramping up on valpak and friends. The USPS can't make money, FedEx and UPS give them business, yet you're faulting FedEx and UPS? Interesting
FIFA October 27, 2012 at 10:24 PM
McGibblets, yes. Those entities only deliver to the profitable areas. Thet then force taxpayers to pick up the bill for delivering to the non-profitable areas. By law the Post Office has to deliver everywhere. Those two cherry pick and we pay for it. Great system. Butthead, isn't it?
FIFA October 27, 2012 at 10:25 PM
Yea, butthead, they give them the business all right, you ignorant fool.
FIFA October 27, 2012 at 10:27 PM
Gosh I have zero tolerance for idiots like fast food McGibletts.
McGibblets October 27, 2012 at 10:46 PM
From the looks of it you have zero tolerance for providing facts to substantiate your claims. Numbers that show how much money the USPS loses by carrying fedex and UPS products would suffice. Backing up percentages of profits by UPS and FedEx they make 'from the taxpayer' by forcing the packages on the USPS. You've resorted to name calling (3 posts, two of which were simply to insult) rather than presenting facts or legitimate arguments supporting your points therefore your posts no longer deserve my time.
FIFA October 27, 2012 at 10:55 PM
McG, you make an argument that the PO is a business which is false. You pay .45 to send a letter anywhere to a US address. They can't close Post Offices without congressional bickering. They are told they have to fund 5 Billion a year in pensions. They have no control over what they do. The other two choose where they deliver. So they only pick profitable routes. You can mislead about insulting you, but you are a frigging idiot.
McGibblets October 27, 2012 at 11:30 PM
"A business (also known as enterprise or firm) is an organization engaged in the trade of goods, services, or both to consumers.[1] Businesses are predominant in capitalist economies, where most of them are privately owned and administered to earn profit to increase the wealth of their owners. Businesses may also be not-for-profit or state-owned. A business owned by multiple individuals may be referred to as a company, although that term also has a more precise meaning." Yes, it is a business. Further, you act as if FedEx and UPS are burdening the USPS. Increasing their volume on less desirable routes makes the routes more profitable, aside from the fact that this situation is a rarity and again you've shown little data to suggest its a major hemorrhage for the USPS. USPS works along with FedEx and UPS, cooperatively. Who do you think handles USPS products overseas??? FedEx handles large volumes of USPS freight overseas, because that is less desirable and profitable for the USPS and FedEx has the resources to handle it, just as the USPS is better equipped for local rural domestic routes so they can profit from delivering FedEx packages to areas not profitable to FedEx. Its a business, run by govt, quite poorly. Like all other govt businesses. The End
FIFA October 27, 2012 at 11:37 PM
That's BS fast food and you know it. It s a government run enterprise that allows you to mail packages at one of the lowest rates in the world and you complain about it? I hope the PO goes out of business, then what will you do fool? You will bitch and moan about how much more it costs! Gonna send letters FedEx? Go for it, it's idiotic and you know it. You are a whiner, that's all.
McGibblets October 27, 2012 at 11:48 PM
Finally, an agreement.... we both hope the USPS goes out of business!
Greg G. October 28, 2012 at 10:28 AM
Still trying to figure out what they were charging us for when power was out? Can you put the name calling aside for a minute and let someone answer that? And small gov't it's meddle not meedle.
Gina October 28, 2012 at 12:45 PM
Amen amen and another amen.
S King October 28, 2012 at 03:53 PM
I was out of town from 5/31 - 9/6.. I got a bill from BGE for $96.00 for 7/16-8/15. When I called, they said it was to cover the costs for all the overtime and extra crews it took to restore power from the 2 big storms we had. This was a much needed decision. Thank you MPSC.
TJ October 28, 2012 at 04:03 PM
That sounds like O'Malley's thinking. " We screwed up so you will need to do your part and pay extra for effort".
Joe October 28, 2012 at 04:15 PM
What exactly were those charges? I am looking at my bill for the same period and see no extra charges. Our electric only bill was $52.27 for that same time period. I used a lot of AC since the temps were so high then. Are those charges on your bill itemized?
Ben October 28, 2012 at 07:52 PM
why youall sending all this stuff to me?????? All I want to know is how to print this????
PerryHallParent October 28, 2012 at 08:12 PM
Ben, the box that you type in? If you don't uncheck the box that says "Send me email updates for this article" (which should be UNCHECKED BY DEFAULT) then you will get an email every time someone posts after you do.
J. Barnett October 29, 2012 at 04:47 AM
Perhaps we have forgotten that the Post Office, and in some communities electrical service and hospitals were not run as businesses, but as a SERVICE to those in the communities. They were to benefit those who used the services not to make an "owner" profits. Those were replaced by for profit entities who do not always have the best interests of their customers in mind. I believe what commenters above meant was that if the P.O. was dismantled and replaced w/for profits only rural and remote areas would lose service altogether because it would not make good ''business" sense. This happened in the case of small hospitals that served rural communities. What has been lacking in government agencies is remembering who they are supposed to serve and being careful not to waste the resources they have been entrusted with, to be accountable to those who elected them. JB
TJ October 29, 2012 at 05:00 AM
Companies streamline to make a profit and fix waste within that company. Government gets bigger and could care less about careless spending, they don't care about waste because they can raise taxes to cover the cost.
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