PUC to study electricity rate hike
The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission voted on Thursday to investigate Duquesne Light Co.'s request to increase its electricity distribution rates by 17.6 percent — worth about $76.3 million annually to the utility.
If the request is approved, the average residential customer who doesn't have electric heat will pay about $8 more a month, according to the company; the average residential bill is $86 a month. The average commercial customer's bill would increase to about $900 a month, up $47. The average large-industrial customer would pay $16,680 a month, up $500.
A complaint filed Aug. 15 by the Office of the Consumer Advocate triggered the investigation, which must conclude by May 2.
“Companies always ask for as much as they think they can justify, but they generally don't obtain the full amount,” said Tanya J. McCloskey, acting consumer advocate.
Duquesne Light spokesman Joey Vallarian said the utility expected the complaint, adding that investigations are “standard operating procedure” for rate increase requests.
The utility's plan includes an 11.25 percent profit margin for its stakeholders, McCloskey said.
“Our financial experts just don't feel that's justified in the current economic times,” she said.
The company filed the base-rate increase request with the commission on Aug. 2, citing plans to upgrade its grid, customer information system, vegetation management and Internet security, as well as the necessary back office technology for the state-mandated installation of smart meters, Vallarian said. Duquesne Light hasn't updated its system since the 1990s and wants to offer customers better account access online, he said.
“These are changes that are evolving in the utility industry to make the process much more customer-friendly,” McCloskey said. “We understand that, but we want to be sure the approved amount is just and reasonable to both consumers and the company.”
The commission has nine months after the original filing to make a decision, holding hearings with testimony from Duquesne Light and consumer advocates through the winter. If the commission perceives enough interest, it could schedule public hearings in the Pittsburgh area.
Megan Harris is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Protest planned Monday at Plum Borough High School
- Forbes Avenue jeweler’s embedded sidewalk sign safely slides out to make way for Pittsburgh Playhouse project
- Senior at Pittsburgh’s CAPA school focuses spotlight on homeless students
- Poor infrastructure may hinder aid efforts in Nepal after earthquake
- Allegheny County Council will have new look
- District 7 candidates for Pittsburgh council vow to protect poorer communities
- Newsmakers: Danielle and Patrik McKain
- It’s business, but not as usual in Pittsburgh
- Plum school officials ignoring help, advocacy group’s chief says
- Burgess’ rivals for Pittsburgh council nomination owe money to government
- Garfield business reaches out to raise $90K for fixes