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BGE Customers Angry About Proposed Rate Increase

BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- Customers annoyed by BGE's response to storm-related power outages are not happy to hear that BGE is asking for a rate increase.

Pat Warren reports BGE is making its case on the need to upgrade its equipment.

Mary Bethke is already battle-scarred.

"Yeah, I'm a tough bird," Bethke said.

And she tried toughing it out when the derecho left her powerless, but the loss of electricity meant a trip to the hospital for this breast cancer patient. She rates BGE's performance on a scale of 1-10.

"Zero," she said. "Very bad."

It's against a backdrop of discontent that BGE asks the Public Service Commission for a rate increase to cover distribution costs.

"We're gonna let the PSC decide whether the performance was good or bad or needs improvemen,t but separate and apart from that, the infrastructure is the infrastructure," said BGE spokesman Rob Gould.

And the infrastructure is what the increase is about.

According to BGE, in a typical bill of $100, $70 pays for the energy, $29 for taxes, distribution and fees and about $1 to the shareholders.

"People have a misconception that we have a lot of money that we are simply sitting on that we can just invest ourselves," said Gould.

Which is what this customer thinks they should do.

"Find the funds from within their company," said one customer.

And from the Bethke's standpoint, do a better job of earning those funds.

"You know, we're forced to pay for it, but we didn't get anything for our money," said Bethke.

State Senator Nancy Jacobs, who represents the Bethkes, says the PSC should make BGE's performance a consideration.

"They're supposed to be the watchdogs, not the lapdogs, and they're not watching out for the people of Maryland," Jacobs said.

But there are customers who understand BGE's need to pay for upgrades.

"If they upgrade it and we get our delivery like we need it, I'm happy. All I want is my service," said Terry Gregory.

And BGE points out this is only the second time in 20 years it has asked for an increase for infrastructure.

"A lot of it is money we've already spent. We're going to the PSC to ask them to allow recovery," said Gould.

If the rate hike is approved, you'll see the increase on your bill in February.

The proposal amounts to an average increase of $12 a month. It also applies to gas.

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