The D.C. Public Service Commission, responding to community and City Council pressure, announced yesterday it will schedule one more community hearing on a phone company request for $54.5 million rate increase.
The added hearing is scheduled for July 11 at 6:30 p.m., at St. Mark's Episcopal Church, Third and A streets SE.
The PSC also said it would require the Chesapeake & Potomac Telephone Co. to publicize the hearing and its requested rate hike by placing an insert in customers' phone bills.
"The PSC is concerned that ample opportunity has not been afforded District telephone rate payers to air their views in the first major local telephone rate proceeding following the breakup of the Bell telephone system," said PSC Chairman Patricia Worthy.
Under the current rate request, made last August and twice modified by C&P, residential rates would nearly double. C&P would charge a fee for a dial tone separate from usage, requiring residential customers to pay $13.42 a month to be hooked into the system, and an additional $10.12 a month for usage compared with the current rate for unlimited calls of $12.49 a month.
The bill inserts that C&P will mail out won't spell out how much of the requested revenue would fall on residential customers if the rate request is granted, said Howard Davenport, general counsel for the PSC. Information on rate design will be mailed to advisory neighborhood commissioners, City Council members, community groups and will be published in newspapers, he said.
Advisory neighborhood commissioners, who serve as liaisons between the city government and citizens, had called for C&P to inform the public of how much of the request would fall on residential customers through the bill inserts which would reach the widest audience.
The PSC has "to do more than just rule on repetitive annual rate requests, they have to tell the public what is happening with residential service and they are not doing that," said Mark Plotkin, an advisory neighborhood commissioner.
"We're gravely disappointed that the bill insert will not spell out the fact that residential customers will once again bear the brunt of any additional revenues granted by the PSC to C&P," said a spokeswoman for the People's Counsel.