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.'