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Group calls for lower power rates

January 20, 1999|By DAN KULIN /Staff Writer

Average Allegheny Power customers in Maryland could see their electric bills decrease by $63 a year under a proposal the state's consumer advocacy agency submitted Tuesday to the Maryland utility regulatory commission, according to an agency spokesman.

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The proposal from the Office of People's Counsel in Baltimore will be reviewed by the Maryland Public Service Commission, also in Baltimore, said Jason A. Feuchtwanger, a People's Counsel spokesman.

The People's Counsel is a consumer advocacy agency that represents Maryland's residential utility customers.

The Public Service Commission is not bound to go along with any one proposal, and is expected to review all proposals in March and issue a decision in the fall or winter, Feuchtwanger said.

Allegheny Power and the Maryland Energy Administration also have sent proposals to the Public Service Commission, he said.

Under the People's Counsel proposal, electric rates for Allegheny Power customers in Maryland would decrease by 8 percent in 2000 and remain stable until 2004.

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The rate decrease would be offset by a negotiated rate increase agreed to in December, which allows the electric company to raise electric rates 4 percent in 1999, 2000 and again in 2001, Feuchtwanger said.

The result of the People's Counsel proposal would be that Allegheny Power electric rates would increase by 4 percent this year, go down 4 percent in 2000, increase by 4 percent in 2001, and then remain the same until 2004, at which time the rates will be deregulated, Feuchtwanger said.

Allegheny Power officials hadn't had enough time Tuesday to review the People's Counsel request to comment on the proposal, company spokeswoman Debbie Beck said.

Allegheny Power's proposal to the Public Service Commission would cap electric rates after the negotiated 4 percent a year increases take effect, Beck said.

Under Allegheny Power's proposal, the average residential customer using 1,000 kilowatt hours a month could expect a $2.80 a month increase in 1999 and a $5.50 a month increase by the year 2001, according to company officials.

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