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BGE Turnoffs To Resume

| April 29, 2009, 08:06 AM | 5 Comments

Maryland Utility Told To Offer Payment Plans

bgelogoThe State’s Public Service Commission gave BGE the green light to proceed with service terminations of 120,000 Maryland residents who are behind on their bills.  However, their order came with some restrictions on the utility as they continue to investigate the abnormally high electric bills.

The terms of the PSC order include the following:

  • The utility must offer a payment plans to give consumers a chance to pay bills.
  • Before sending termination notices or proceeding with terminations, BGE  must first notify customers in writing that flexible payment plans are available, with no interest or late fees.
  • Payment plans can be as long as 12 months but should be tailored to a customer’s individual circumstances.
  • The customer shall have 14 days after receiving a written notice to contact the utility to negotiate a payment plan.  Customers who are unable to work out a plan may appeal to the PSC.
  • The order prohibits BGE from requiring any down payment from customers whose service has not previously been terminated, who have made payments within the last 90 days or who have not defaulted on previous payment plans. Otherwise, the utilities can require up to a 25 percent down payment.

While the order passed, it was not without some dissent. Commissioner Harold D. Williams, in a written opinion stated,”It is readily apparent that some are finding it difficult to manage these continually high utility bills now, and the problem will only exacerbate during the summer months.” He stated that consumers ought to be given more generous terms for repayment.

Meanwhile, “We’re in the process of determining how we would implement the order,” said Rob Gould, BGE’s spokesperson. “At the same time, we have received some calls from customers, where we are engaging with them in dialogue about an extended payment plan.”

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Category: OPINION, POLITICAL NEWS

About the Author - John Frenaye

John is the publisher and editor of Eye On Annapolis. As a resident and business owner in Anne Arundel County for nearly 25 years, he realized that there was something missing in terms of community news–and Eye On Annapolis was born in late spring 2009.

John’s background is in the travel industry as a business owner, industry speaker, and travel writer. In terms of blogging and social media, he cut his teeth with MSNBC.com.

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Comments (5)

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  1. SevernaPark Guy says:

    O’kay….and this helps me how? I pay my bills on time with no issue. Like everyone else I took it in the can with these rate increases. I think people just need to be smarter about “shopping” for their electricity. I locked in with WGES for 10.8 cents kw/h for the next 3 years. Based on my usage I will save $30/month during the summer months and beyond. BGE’s high rates are here to stay. If they don’t hit with with usage rate increases they get you with distro increases. People need to take this issue “by the horns” and try to save in any way possible.

  2. Eye Spy says:

    Well it appears to not affect you which is a good thing. But there are a LOT of people in the County that have been hit hard by the recession, the rates, and other unforeseen circumstance. Granted, it is not your problem, but when you couple those issues with the B GE rate increases and the unexplained bills, it helps. I believe I read that BGE has 3 million customers and right now it seems like just over 120K have turn off notices. If that 3M number is right (and my math is right) that is 4% of their customers.

    So that IS a problem!

  3. SevernaPark Guy says:

    Eye…this recession has affected me as well. I moved from Annapolis to SP in 05, where my mortgage doubled, but I choose to sacrifice and take on the extra cost so my kids could attend decent public schools and live in an excellent community. Since then my 30% equity stake in my home is gone…the county will tax me higher than apparently my home is worth…and my employer decided a 3% raise was good enough, while my cost of living continues to go up just like everyone else. I just don’t want anyone to get the impression I drive around Annapolis in a BMW sucking on Grey Poupon. My utility Bills have jumped from a decent $120-130/mo to $240-$350/mo…so I too have felt what is going on.

    If you go to a store and don’t pay for your goods, you go home empty handed. The government doesn’t come in and say, “take your stuff, pay it pack over two years, and don’t worry…the store can’t tack on any interest to what you owe.”

    Think about that for a second. The state is forcing a company to lose money.

    So, BGE has been losing money as the customers haven’t paid. Now they must lose more when they set up payment plans. Plus, those payment plans can’t include interest or late fees, causing more money to be lost.

    Furthermore, the payment plan must be tailored to each individual customer. That will be a nightmare to track! If a plan can’t be reached (read: BGE doesn’t do exactly what the customer wants), the customer may appeal to the PSC.

    These customers, who have proven they can’t be trusted to pay their bills on time, can’t be forced to put down a down payment or pay interest.

    Now, here’s the kicker. BGE is guaranteed by the state (as a regulated utility) to recover their costs plus a set rate of return. So, BGE isn’t really going to be losing any of this money. Every single person that actually pays their bills on time (me…you) will be saddled with the cost.

    So who is this a problem for? The 4% who aren’t paying their bills or the 96%, who while struggling to pay these increase as well…pay the bills nonetheless. I’m glad there is help for these people, but remember BGE isn’t doing this out of the goodness of their heart, and they will get their money back…and it won’t be coming from the 4% that can’t pay in the first place.

  4. Ama says:

    SevernaPark Guy,

    Think of this scenario, your bill has consistently been $200, and then BGE says your meter was not working and your bill goes up to $700. Are you telling me you have an extra $500 laying around? Most working families have suffered as you have, but so many of us have depleted our savings trying to keep up with bills that high. I am managing with no public assistance, but keeping my head above water is very hard, and given the drastic changes in bills (not the price per kWh, but the actual USAGE)you may agree that something else may be going on with BGE. In my case, it is based on estimates more often than actual readings. What?

    I am definitely looking to switch, but BGE has been less than helpful in guiding me through the process. Even when I do switch, I still owe what I owe. I wonder what the CEO of Contellation’s bill looks like. I have heard his home is over 30,000 square feet. Did that bill go up too?

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