WASHINGTON – Washington Gas has asked the Maryland Public Service Commission to approve a 9 percent rate increase, which the company said would raise the average residential customer’s monthly bill by about $5.79.
The Washington-based natural gas distributor, which has about 382,000 customers in Maryland, justified the requested increase by saying that it has been eight years since the last rate hike was approved. Maryland customers account for 42 percent of the utility’s total business.
The utility filed its application Thursday. The increase, if approved, would mean $31.4 million in additional revenues for the company annually, said Miguel Gonzalez, a Washington Gas spokesman.
The company said in a statement that it has provided “stable rates since 1994,” but that an increase is necessary now because of “rapidly rising costs, including new paving and permitting regulation, inflation, and increases in investment in piping infrastructure.”
In 1994, Washington Gas sought a rate increase that would have brought in an additional $17.6 million, but the PSC ultimately approved only a $7.355 million increase, Gonzalez said. He said the public should “let the commission make a decision based on its merits” with this filing.
Officials at the PSC did not return telephone calls Friday on the application.
Sandra Guthorn, deputy counsel in the Maryland Office of People’s Counsel, called the Washington Gas request “a large increase and we’ll certainly be looking at it carefully.”
But at least one Washington Gas customer has already made up her mind on the proposed rate hike.
“If we have to pay more, I wouldn’t be happy,” said Abby Dischner, manager of Made By You, a ceramics and crafts shop in Bethesda.