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D.C. AG opposes utility's proposed rate hike for low-income residents

By Jessica M. Karmasek | Aug 20, 2013

WASHINGTON (Legal Newsline) -- District of Columbia Attorney General Irvin Nathan said last week his office, on behalf of the District's Department of the Environment, is opposing a utility's proposal to collect nearly $2 million in additional revenue from low-income residents.

About 24,000 households served under Potomac Electric Power Company's Residential Aid Discount, or RAD, program -- and whose incomes fall below 60 percent of the median levels in the District -- would be affected by the proposed rate increase.

On Thursday, the attorney general formally opposed the increase by intervening in a rate proceeding pending before the District's Public Service Commission.

On Aug. 9, the District submitted expert testimony that economic conditions in the city's poorest neighborhoods do not currently support any increases to the electricity rates paid by Pepco's low-income customers.

The District also urged the commission to take steps protecting low-income customers who switch from Pepco to "alternative" energy suppliers.

RAD customers who use Pepco as their electricity supplier receive discounts on the supply portions of their electricity bills, in addition to discounts on the distribution portions. When RAD customers switch to alternative suppliers, the discounts that the customers receive on the supply portions of their bills disappear.

As a result, many RAD customers who switch to alternative energy suppliers, often as a result of aggressive marketing practices, have difficulty paying their electricity bills and may face disconnection.

"We would like to see the commission ensure that low income consumers receiving electricity supply discounts are able to keep these discounts when they decide to sign up with alternative energy suppliers," Nathan said in a statement Thursday.

From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by email at jessica@legalnewsline.com.

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