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Your Take: Utilities Charging Customers During Outages!

For residents in the Washington D.C. and Baltimore metro area, the recent hot weather was made worse when that big storm knocked out power. Hundreds of thousands of homes were without power, some for up to a week. I had a lot of friends who didn’t have power, thankfully most for just a day or two, but many people couldn’t run their air conditioning for up to a week.

As it turns out, Maryland power companies are still allowed to charge their customers for that time even though they didn’t have electricity. My friend Matt sent me this local news story [3] about how Pepco and BGE, two local utilities, would be adding a “Bill Stabilization Adjustment” to the next bill. It won’t be much, just a dollar or so, but I think the principle is what people are most upset about. It’s not permitted in Washington D.C. or Virginia and in Maryland, it’ll be included into the “delivery fee” so we wouldn’t even know it was there.

What do you think of this? If they allowed this in your state, would you be upset?

On the one hand, it’s ridiculous to charge customers for service they never received but the company would get this revenue somehow. There are fixed costs associated with operating and maintaining the utility, independent of how much juice is sent out to customers, so I imagine either they charge a little more in a delivery fee now or just increase the price on contract renewal. It just looks ridiculous from a PR perspective.

What do you guys think?