BALTIMORE - Baltimore Gas & Electric says it is seeking rate increases for electricity and natural gas distribution.
Company officials say they asked state regulators Friday for the increases. The utility says they are needed to make improvements to comply with recently enacted state and federal reliability and public safety requirements.
If approved, the distribution portion of typical residential electric bills would increase 6.6 percent and residential gas distribution would increase 7.9 percent. Distribution accounts for about 30 percent of utility bills. The cost of the actual electricity and gas accounts for the remainder.
The utility says the typical electric bill will increase by $7.22 per month and the typical gas bill will increase by $4.62 per month.
BGE says if approved, rates are expected to go up in February. The company also sought an increase on distribution rates in 2010. BGE said at the time they were needed for new technologies and customer service improvements.
Rob Gould, a spokesman for BGE, says the cash from the distribution rate increase would go to projects like replacing power lines and poles, and upgrading gas pipelines.
"All large cities are facing the same challenge that utilities are, especially in the eastern end of the country," says Gould. "It's no different when you look at utility infrastructure, much of which has been built in the '40s and '50s. And some of the gas lines are older than that."
He adds that the utility understands many customers may not be happy, especially after the June 29 derecho that knocked out power for thousansd of people.
"We're not tone-deaf," he says. "When you look at the performance though during the derecho, we restored about the same amount of customers at BGE with about 1500 fewer people -- in about the same amount of time as we did during Hurricane Irene."
The state regulators rejected most of Pepco's rate increase request earlier this month.
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