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BGE Looks To Increase Rates; Improve Aging Infrastructure

BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- Brace your checking accounts. If BGE gets its way, you could soon be paying more on your monthly bill. The utility company is asking for another rate increase.

Derek Valcourt has more on what they're asking and what customers are saying about it.

Depending on if you have natural gas, electricity or both, the average customer could be paying anywhere from $4 to $11 more a month. Some customers call it unfair, saying they're already paying plenty.

One month after a massive storm left hundreds of thousands of Marylanders without power for days, BGE says it now wants to raise its rates under the distribution charge on the bill. That's the amount they charge to deliver electricity to your home. Money the utility company says is needed to improve their aging infrastructure.

"That goes directly to the pipes, the wires, the poles, the underground cables," said BGE Spokesman Bob Gould.

The company has only reportedly increased their distribution charges one other time in the last two decades.

"This is a bad time to be asking for an increase. But on the other hand, if we do not seek the enhancement of our infrastructure and continue to keep it in good repair both from a safe perspective and from a reliability perspective, we will fall behind," Gould said.

The increase will have to be approved by Maryland's Public Service Commission, which will likely hear an earful from frustrated customers.

"They really charge us enough," said Nicole Williams. "I think that if they want to upgrade that should be something they should do from within. Find the funds from within their company somehow."

But some customers say a higher bill would be only worth it if it could keep them from spending so long without electricity when another major storm hits.

"If they can upgrade the service and that won't happen to me I wouldn't mind paying three or four dollars more," said Terry Gregory.

"If it upgraded and it kept my power on, I'd be willing to pay extra," said Angela Mays.

Maryland's Public Service Commission has seven months to decide whether to approve the rate increase.

Several consumer groups including the AARP will advocate against BGE's proposed increase.

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