Some Maryland electricity consumers will be getting a rate break while their neighbors buying natural gas will be paying slightly more as a result of two Maryland Public Service Commission actions yesterday.
Rates for Maryland customers of Washington Gas Light Co. were raised 3.3 percent, effective Nov. 26, and Potomac Electric Power Co. received approval to lower fuel rates 5.1 percent.
The WGL increase means that the average household using 114 therms of natural gas for heating will be paying $71.90 a month, instead of $70.03. For the residential customer who does not heat with gas, the average monthly bill for 31 therms will rise from $22.70 to $23.27.
Washington Gas serves more than 200,000 customers in Montgomery, Prince George's and Charles counties. The last raise, averaging 4 percent, occurred on March 4. At that time the company said it was "disappointed" that only half the amount it requested was granted and indicated it would seek another rate boost soon.
This time the company asked for an 8 percent increase, or a total of $23 million in additional revenues. Again, a company spokesman said Washington Gas was "very disappointed."
Yesterday's increase means an additional $9.6 million in revenues for WGL. Coincidentally, Washington Gas released its earnings statement for the year ending Oct. 31. Net income rose to $20.8 million, up 16.3 percent from $17.9 million. Earnings per share increased by 23 cents to $3.41. Revenues increased by 29.6 percent from $525 million to $680.6 million.
The company noted that earnings reflected higher retail rates, more customers served and colder weather, offset by higher interest costs. Last year the utility sold 41.9 million therms or 3.7 percent more gas.
The Pepco rate reduction will affect 325,000 residential and commercial customers in Maryland beginning Nov. 29, according to Pepco spokeswoman Nancy Moses.
An average residential customer using 843 kilowatt hours of electricity monthly will save about $1.17 per month under the new rates, Moses said.
The company said it is able to cut the rates because it has been buying cheaper power from utilities in the West and is burning more coal than oil, which is more costly.