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On August 14, 2014 at 7:30 p.m., listen to the People’s Counsel talk about the PSC’s decision on Uber and her perspective on regulation of Uber, Lyft and similar companies on MPT’s “Your Money and Business” with Jeff Salkin.

 

Physician Certification of Serious Illness or Life Support (PSC form SC-1).  PSC Staff has recommended a rule change to allow "nurse practitioners" the ability to sign this form.  SEE OPC ALERT

 

Exelon announces plans to acquire PEPCO and Delmarva.  If approved, Exelon would own electric utilities serving most of Maryland's electric ratepayers.  LINK to NEWS WATCH 

 

See OPC's new "Guide to Understanding Fee Options for Smart Meters" in PUBLICATIONS.

 

OPC applauds Public Service Commission order on Uber Technologies' operations in Maryland.  The PSC found that Uber provides transportation services to the public and is regulated by the PSC.  OPC Press Release 

 

OPC asks the PSC to Investigate whether uberX an Lyft drivers have the "Passenger for-hire license" required by Maryland.  OPC Press Release

  

People's Counsel in the news on MPT, WYPR, WBAL TV (Ch.11) and WNBC 4 talking about high winter bills and the role of extreme variable rates charged by energy suppliers  LINK to NEWS WATCH 

 

CHECK OUT THE STATUS AND OPC TESTIMONY ON BILLS HEARD IN THE 2014 LEGISLATIVE SESSION.  LINK to STATE LEGISLATION. 

 

OPC opposition to PEPCO's  rate increase delivers benefits.  PSC has ruled that PEPCO will receive 20% less of the amount requested last December 2013, in PSC Case 9336.

 

New law (SB 1044/HB 928) requires the PSC to set up a work group and evaluate the adequacy of its existing supplier consumer protection rules.  This is timely in light of the variable rate problems for consumers, and consumer complaints about slamming and deceptive marketing.   

 

PSC issues order in Case 9340, addressing high winter bills, utility plans to assist customers and the role played by extreme variable pricing by energy suppliers. OPC testified and submitted recommendations in that case, and will be part of the work groups established by the Commission to look at rule changes.

 

OPC files a Request for Rehearing of the PSC's order on Starion Energy in PSC Case 9340 on April 7, 2014.  Link to PSC  The Commission found numerous serious consumer protections violations and imposed a substantial penalty, but left some important issues on the table regarding Starion's deceptive variable pricing practices and violations of the Telephone Solicitations Act.

 

Due to high complaint volumes this winter, the PSC opens investigations of several energy suppliers regarding Variable Rate Pricing Practices this winter (2013-2014) in PSC 9346 and 9347.  OPC sought relief for Starion Energy customers for high prices in 2012-2013 winter, and will pursue relief in these cases as well.  

 

Columbia Gas  submits another STRIDE Gas surcharge application on April 1, 2014, after PSC rejects its first application, challenged by OPC.  OPC Testimony due on May 14, with hearings on June 9 and 10.

 

OPC goes to Washington County Circuit Court to oppose Columbia Gas appeal of a PSC rate case order in PSC 9316.  The Company wants to collect money to clean up a property that has not been of any use to its customers.  OPC had successfully challenged the Company's request in the PSC proceedings.

 

Two Maryland water companies file for rate increases.  Green Ridge Utilities (Harford County) and Maryland Water Service (Allegany County).  OPC will represent residential customers in those cases, with assistance from an experienced technical consultant.

 

OPC filed appeal of BGE rate case order in Baltimore City Circuit Court

 

CONSUMER ALERT--NEW WEBSITE to address high bill problems this winter: http://energy.maryland.gov/Residential/assistance/EmergencyColdWeatherEnergyAssistance.htm

This highlights the commitment of major utilities to provide payment plans and new budget billing assistance for customers receiving high bills this winter.   

 

CONSUMER ALERT--Public Service Commission has issued an order in Case #9340 (2014 Utility Arrearage, Collection, and Termination Practices).  OPC filed Written Comments and testified on March 7, 2014.

 

CONSUMER ALERT--HIGH WINTER BILLS--OPC has prepared two alert notices with information about high winter bills, utility budget billing plans to help consumers, and energy assistance referrals. BGE Special 2014 Budget Billing Plan  High Winter Bills Information Alert