Harrisburg >> The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission voted Thursday to investigate PECO Energy Company’s recent request for a rate increase. The commission voted unanimously to investigate the request.

That means PECO’s rate increase request is suspended for up to seven months from the time the rate would have otherwise become effective. PECO’s requested effective date was May 28. A final decision by the commission is due by Dec. 28, 2018.

PECO filed a request with the Public Utility Commission March 29 for approval of an $82 million — or 2.2 percent — increase in the rates it charges customers for the delivery of electricity. If approved as filed, the increase would raise a residential customer’s bill by 3.2 percent.

As a result of Thursday’s order, the rate case will now be assigned to the Office of Administrative Law Judge for an investigation and recommended decision.

“This investigation shall include consideration of the lawfulness, justness, and reasonableness of the Respondent’s existing rates, rules, and regulations,” the order stated.

The process will likely include hearings scheduled before an Administrative Law Judge, where evidence in support of the rate increase will be examined and testimony offered. The hearings also present an opportunity for consumers to voice their opinions. A recommendation by the Administrative Law Judge will then be made to the Public Utility Commission for a vote and final decision by the commissioners.

After examining the evidence, the commission may approve all, none, or a portion of the request.

Thursday’s decision by the Public Utility Commission was not unexpected by PECO. A spokeswoman said the company anticipated the rate case would be subject to the commission’s timeline as part of the traditional ratemaking process.

“As always, we will work with the PUC to arrive at an outcome that ultimately benefits our customers and the communities we serve,” said Afia Ohene-Frempong, PECO spokeswoman.

According to the order issued Thursday by the Public Utility Commission, two formal complaints were filed in opposition to PECO’s request: by the Office of Small Business Advocate, filed on April 9; and by the Office of Consumer Advocate, filed on April 12.

As part of its original filing, PECO indicated the new electric delivery rate would provide funding for enhancements to PECO’s electric distribution system and services, including infrastructure and technology upgrades.

PECO also said the increased revenue will be used to strengthen the company’s system against weather and other hazards; support online and mobile tools to make it easier for customers to manage energy use, pay bills and use customer-generated energy sources; and to encourage economic development and environmental stewardship.

The original filing also included PECO’s proposed plan to provide annual tax savings to more than 1.6 million customers in southeastern Pennsylvania, resulting from federal income tax reductions under the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.

If approved by the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission without any changes, the total monthly bill for a typical residential electric customer using about 700 kilowatt hours of electricity would increase by about $3.28 per month, or 3.2 percent.

Customers wishing to review PECO’s filing with the Public Utility Commission can visit peco.com/rates or call 1-800-494-4000.

More information about the Public Utility Commission’s ratemaking process is available on the commission’s website.

Headquartered in Philadelphia, PECO delivers energy to more than 1.6 million electric customers and more than 516,000 natural gas customers in southeastern, Pennsylvania.

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