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Atlantic City Electric seeks 8.25 percent rate increase

By: Michelle Brunetti |

The average Atlantic City Electric customer would pay $10.66 more per month if the state Board of Public Utilities approves the company’s request for an 8.25 percent rate increase.

The utility is seeking an extra $99.7 million per year from its 550,000 ratepayers in South Jersey to pay for ongoing modernization of its grid and to cover costs of recent storms, including four March nor’easters, a spokesperson said Friday.

If the BPU grants the request, the average bill for a residential customer who uses about 679 kilowatt hours per month would jump from $130 to $140.66, Atlantic City Electric Region Vice President Susan Coan said.

In 2017, Atlantic City Electric was granted a $43 million rate increase after a similar filing that asked for a $70 million rate adjustment.

The potential rate increase would come on top of other added costs electricity customers would face from recent bills signed by Gov. Phil Murphy. One would provide about $300 million per year to nuclear power plants that can prove they will close without a subsidy, and would cost the average residential customer $31 to $41 per year (the cost would be spread across all ratepayers in the state). Another would increase ratepayer subsidies for wind and solar development, but the costs of that are not fully known.

A spokesperson for the director of the New Jersey Division of Rate Counsel, which represents consumers’ interests before the BPU on rate increases, said the director has not had a chance to review the request.

“Rate Counsel received Atlantic City Electric’s rate request filing today. We previously scheduled a pre-filing meeting with the company on Monday (June 18) to discuss the request,” the office said in a statement. “We’ll give the company’s filing a thorough review, and you can rest assured that we will be advocating on behalf of the ratepayers.”

Atlantic City Electric said it plans to spend more than $194 million in 2018 to continue to install new equipment that will help reduce the frequency and duration of power outages and fortify the local distribution grid.

Coan said the company tries to balance cost to customers with the need to make improvements to increase reliability of the electrical grid, especially in a time of more frequent storms.

She said the company has spent hundreds of millions of dollars modernizing the grid in South Jersey over the past five years.

“Because of these investments and others, our customers experienced the lowest average number of outages in the company’s history and the fastest restoration times ever,” Coan said of 2017.

The number of electrical outages is down 40 percent in the past five years, she said, and lengths of outages are down by 18 percent.

She said the filing is to recoup funds spent so far this calendar year, and funds expected to be spent later in 2018.