Delaware legislators protest proposed electric rate hike

Twenty Delaware lawmakers along with organization leaders who represent those who struggle to pay their utility bills are coming together to protest Delmarva Power’s request to increase electric rates for the third consecutive year.

The utility company is requesting a $42 million hike that would cost the average customer an additional $8 a month. If Delmarva’s request is approved, it would be the third increase within the past three years. In 2011, the utility company was approved to raise rates by $17 million even though Delmarva initially requested $27.6 million. Customers are already paying an extra five-dollars after a 2012 rate increase was approved.

On Tuesday, a bipartisan group of legislators sent a letter to Bob Howatt, Executive Director of the Delaware Public Service Commission, asking him to not honor the increase.

“The requested $42 million rate increase, representing a 19.6-percent increase on the delivery side of the bill, would be yet another dramatic rise in ratepayers’ bills and is very alarming. As our state slowly recovers from recession, Delaware families do not have the resources to pay more for electricity every time Delmarva Power asks for a rate increase,” the letter states.

According to Newark Rep. John Kowalko, Pepco Holdings, the parent company for Delmarva Power, requested the rate increase for planned infrastructure improvements to take place in Delaware. Reportedly the proposed hike comes right after Pepco posted a $43 million quarterly profit.

“Over the last several years, we’ve seen the same scenario play out: Delmarva Power comes before the Public Service Commission, requests a large rate increase, is granted a slightly smaller increase, then comes back with another request,” said Rep. Kowalko, D-Newark

Several organizations such as AFSCME, the Delaware Alliance for Community Advancement, SEIU Local 32, the Delaware chapter of the National Organization for Women, the Progressive Democrats of Delaware, the New Castle County Civic League, and the Southern New Castle County Alliance are just a few groups that have jumped on board to oppose Delmarva’s latest rate increase request.

“As the representative of an organization that has historically represented low-income families, I can say unequivocally that this rate increase is unacceptable,” said DACA executive director Darlene Battle.

Delmarva currently serves 312,000 Delaware electric customers, and more in the Delmarva Peninsula.

For those customers looking to protest the rate increase as well, Rep. Kowalko urges them to send their letters to the Delaware Public Service Commission.

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