Berlin Residents See Varying PCA Charges

BERLIN
– Some Berlin residents and town staff are looking forward to their April
electric bill, when the reduced PCA charge takes effect.

The
town has received a multitude of complaints over high electric bills, with high
PCA charges, in recent weeks.

PCA,
or power cost adjustment, charges result from a gap between the fixed rate and
the actual cost of the electricity used the previous year. The town still owes
$367,000 in power revenue shortfall. The current PCA rate is $58.11 per
thousand kilowatt-hours (KWh), to be reduced to $47.22 per thousand KWH next
month.

That
day cannot come soon enough for Berlin resident Marcelle Derrickson, who just
received her electric bill and was surprised by the charges on it. The PCA
charge is roughly 43 percent of her total electricity bill, according to
figures supplied by Derrickson.

Other
Berlin electric bills reviewed by (ITALICS)The Dispatch showed the PCA
charge taking a slightly smaller bite of the bill, ranging from 33 percent to
38 percent.

“The
PCA charge is [normally] about 40 percent of your bill,” said Joe Davis, Berlin
Finance and Operations manager. “You’ve got three different rates making up
your total bill. The percentages will change.”

Choptank
Electric has unbundled its rates, unlike Berlin, rendering comparisons of PCA
and other charges meaningless, while Delmarva Power does not have PCA charges
because it relies on bidding out its power supply needs.

A
lot of Berlin’s electric customers are complaining, Derrickson said.

Davis
acknowledged the town has received around 60 complaints over the recent bills.
Each billing period can generate anywhere from 25 to 100 complaints, he said.

“They
see the dollar amount but they’re not paying attention to kilowatt usage,”
Davis said. “We’ve seen significant jumps in the kilowatt hours this last
month.”

He
added, “People who have been complaining all have had extremely high KWh usage
rates.”

The
town will test home electricity meters if the kilowatt- hours used are at
higher than historic consumption, but meters are rarely the culprit, according
to Davis.

Twenty-two
of February’s 28 days dipped below the freezing mark, Davis said, and 10 days
never rose above freezing, causing heating systems to work harder.

“People don’t
remember those things when their bill comes. They want to complain,” Davis
said. “We’re certainly willing to listen to everyone. We try to follow up with
everyone.” 

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