Delmarva Power seeks second increase in natural gas delivery fee in two years

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Delmarva linemen at work

Linemen are pictured at work in this file photo. (Courtesy Delmarva Power)

Delmarva Power is proposing yet another rate hike for the price the utility charges to deliver natural gas to Delaware homes and businesses.

In response, the state’s public advocate is urging the public to weigh-in on what he calls a “significant” proposal and the second increase in two years.

The company’s proposal amounts to a roughly $11 increase in the fee that already costs the average residential heating customer about $90 a month during the winter. That’s what customers pay in addition to charges for the actual gas as well as electricity supply and delivery fees.

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Public Advocate Andrew Slater, who represents residents before the Public Service Commission which has the final say on utility rates, says “a good part of their application is replacing cast iron mains” in delivery pipelines.

“We take a position in all cases,’’ he said. “In fact, it’s almost always less than the company has requested. And we’re in the process of reviewing the application and determining our position as we file testimony in the coming months.”

He’s encouraging residents to voice their opinions as well, saying public sentiment has swayed the commission in the past.

The public can offer comments by:

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  • Going to the commission hearing on May 3 at 6 p.m. at the Carvel State Office Building, located at Eighth and King Streets in Wilmington.
  • Attending by teleconference at 1-866-299-7945 with an access code of #5979551#.
  • Send written comments through May 11 by mail to Delaware Public Service Commission, Docket No. 22-0002, 861 Silver Lake Boulevard, Suite 100, Dover, DE 19904, or by e-mail to psc@delaware.gov, Attn: Docket No. 22-0002.

Delmarva says the hike is essential to recover money spent to maintain system reliability, enhance safety, and comply with state and federal regulations.

In a written statement, Delmarva spokesman Zach Chizar said the adjustment proposal “is based on a thorough evaluation of work done over the last two years to modernize and enhance the natural gas delivery system to provide safe and reliable service for customers and to meet the growing demand for natural gas in northern Delaware.”

Chizar said that in 2021, Delmvara “invested more than $50 million in our natural gas system to maintain safe and reliable service for our 136,000 natural gas customers in northern Delaware.”

The increase will take effect in August on a temporary basis but the commission could roll it back and customers would get whatever refund is due.

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