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News Journal: Attorney general’s action is right call in rate hearing
The intervention of the Attorney General’s Office in today’s rate increase vote for Delmarva Power customers is a necessary intrusion on behalf of the public.
Until Friday, the utility’s customers had no legitimate seat at the table, because Public Advocate G. Arthur Padmore retired two weeks ago.
“We can’t have a hearing go forward on an issue of this magnitude with no one there to represent the consumer,” Attorney General Beau Biden said.
Delmarva wants permission to collect $24.2 million more per year for delivering power to its electric customers in Delaware. The PSC hearing examiner, Ruth Ann Price, recommended the company get only a $6.3 million increase.
But Mr. Padmore had made the case that the company deserves only $3 million. His absence would have sent a stinging message to customers who are still smarting over the utility’s failed attempt to make ratepayers re-fund the company’s pension losses in the stock market.
And it would further alienate those still confused about the PSC staff’s support for new decoupling rates where lower-use customers are charged higher fees.
With just two weeks to fill Mr. Padmore’s shoes, the Attorney General’s Office will make Mr. Padmore’s case for the lowest rate adjustment.
More than likely, the PSC will issue a Solomon-like ruling, with both sides getting less than they want. But at least neither can accuse the commission of not giving them a seat at the table.
Published in The News Journal, January 18, 2011: