The city of Gaithersburg will join Montgomery County in its appeal of higher Pepco rates instead of forming its own appeal, the mayor and council decided in a closed session Aug. 19.
The city made its decision public at a regular meeting held at City Hall on Tuesday. According to City Attorney Lynn Board, the city is concerned about the increased power costs.
“The biggest issue has been the cost of street lighting, because there are separate rates for power to street lights,” she said. The higher rates would mean a $40,000 increase in power costs over previous years.
In July, Maryland’s Public Service Commission denied most of Pepco’s request to raise its rates. The commission granted the utility $27.9 million of a requested $60.8 million increase, which would raise the average customer’s monthly bill by about $2.41, The Gazette previously reported.
The commission also broke with precedent by granting Pepco part of a $192 million surcharge, which would amount to an additional 6 cents per month for the first year for the average customer. The rate will increase to 19 cents in 2015 and 27 cents in 2016, resulting in $24 million for the utility. The funds would pay for maintenance and upgrades to Pepco’s infrastructure.
Montgomery County has asked a judge to stop the rate increase and surcharge. Board said Gaithersburg will work with the county as it appeals the commission’s decision.
The approved rates went into effect on July 12. The city has planned for a higher power bill in its budget, Board said, since the case was still in progress when the budget was drawn.