Delmarva Power told to provide more info in customer bills

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Members of the Public Service Commission voted Tuesday on the action sought by legislators of both parties. (Submitted photo/Heather Contant)

DOVER — A state panel on Tuesday ordered Delmarva Power to list renewable energy charges separately on bills to provide “greater transparency” to customers.

The change enables the utility’s customers to see exactly how much they pay for “renewable energy,” including for the Qualified Fuel Cell Provider charge — also known as the Bloom charge.

The change is expected to go into effect in the first months of 2016.

The Public Service Commission took the action following a request by legislators of both parties.

The action stems from Delaware’s 2011 deal with Bloom Energy. State officials, in an effort they said would create jobs and promote clean energy, allocated funding and approved allowing fuel cells powered by sustainable sources and developed in Delaware to count toward the renewable energy supply that power companies are required to have.

However, some officials have criticized the deal with Bloom Energy because it failed to create enough jobs.

Rep. John Kowalko, D-Newark, is one of the legislators who pushed for the greater transparency.

“Two and one-half years later I am pleased to inform all of you that certain charges that have not been readily available or easily calculable will appear on the monthly bill of Delmarva electric customers,” he said in a statement.

“The additional surcharge for subsidizing the ‘Bloom’ fuel cell business imposed upon the ratepayers will be specifically and individually calculated for (Delmarva Power) ratepayers and appear on your monthly bill as a line item/amount.

“This number has grown substantially from what the General Assembly members were initially led to believe and were told would be the maximum monthly cost borne by them.

“It is in the best interest of the public to be given an unredacted total of the cost imposed on them to support a private business venture that offers no possible return on investment or benefit to those ratepayers.”

Delawareans are “subsidizing” the company to the tune of millions per year, he said Tuesday after the meeting.

The Public Service Commission has held several meetings to develop a solution amenable to all parties. Delmarva Power will have 45 days to create a format for bills going forward, meaning the change could take place within two months.

Preceded by less than 10 minutes of discussion, the vote itself was simple. Delmarva Power’s Todd Goodman praised the changes, and the commission voted without objection to approve the memorandum.

The Delaware State Chamber of Commerce is opposed to the measure, arguing the Public Service Commission is not supporting Bloom and many people “seem to have another agenda.”

“Today, Bloom Energy manufactures its products here in Delaware and Delmarva Power meets its legal requirements by supporting a Delaware manufacturer instead of sending all of that money out of state for power produced in Maryland, Pennsylvania and West Virginia,” chamber President A. Richard Heffron wrote in a letter to members of the commission.

“Yet, the PSC has now decided to single out Bloom Energy on customer bills and is not requiring the same treatment for these out-of-state generators.”

Reach staff writer Matt Bittle at mbittle@newszap.com

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