November 8, 2017
The Delaware Public Service Commission
Regarding: Docket 17-0927 (Delmarva Power’s electric base rate case filed Aug 17, 2017)
Green Delaware supports the Joint Motions to Dismiss and Motions to Stay Discovery and Further Proceedings.
It is our understanding that all the intervenors in this docket support these motions, and that all the public comments so far seen in this docket oppose the proposed underlying rate increases, mostly on grounds of hardship to ratepayers of multiple classes.
Delmarva originally filed for a rate increase of $24.4 million. Subsequently, and after public comment sessions had been held, Delmarva increased its request to $31.2 million. Thus, it appears that Delmarva has increased its demands upon ratepayers by $6.8 million “in the middle of” the Docket.
Green Delaware views this as an abuse of process and on these grounds alone the Motions ought to be granted. A $6.8 million annual revenue increase is substantial, not something to be patched onto an existing docket.
As Green Delaware noted in a recent publication:
“The wholesale price of most all electricity sources has been stable or dropping: solar power is getting cheaper, wind power is getting cheaper, gas power is getting cheaper. Electricity sales are not increasing so large investments in new power plants [and transmission/distribution infrastructure] are not needed. So what’s up? Why are retail prices zooming upwards in Delaware, while wholesale costs are static or declining? The answers are both simple and complex, but they are tied to “regulatory capture” of the regulatory bodies–such as the Delaware Public Service Commission–by the utilities that are supposed to be regulated.”
In short, the Delmarva Power filings in this docket don’t, on a fundamental level, pass the “smell test.”
Thus, we urge the Commission to dismiss with prejudice.
Lastly, we note that earlier this year the Commission’s Staff and Chair indicated their support for Delaware Senate Bill 80, which would have created a wholly-unjustified, additional, new line item charge (“distribution system improvement charge”) on Delmarva Power electric and gas bills, without meaningful opportunities for public review of the additional charges. Total charges without a “rate case” could have amounted to $24 million.
SB 80 was strongly opposed by the Public Advocate, Rep. Kowalko, Green Delaware, and others, and did not advance into law. The point of mentioning this here is that Delawareans have some reason to question whether the Public Service Commission is appropriately focused on ratepayer interests, as opposed to utility interests. The Commission should act in Docket 17-0927 so as to quiet, rather than reinforce, such questions.