UPDATE 4/19/16 – NEW RATE HIKES COMING FROM PEPCO! Less than a month after its $6.8 billion merger with Exelon went through, Pepco is asking the Maryland Public Service Commission for a 10 percent across-the-board rate increase for most of its 560,000 customers in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties.
3/15/16: BGE recently asked for another rate increase. If approved, the rate increase will bring higher monthly payments for both commercial and residential customers and hundreds of millions of additional dollars to BGE. There are rate increases in store for Pepco customers as well since the Pepco Exelon Merger is getting closer to being passed and the latest compromise agreement does not prohibit residential rate increases . The latest version of the proposal that removed a provision banning rate hikes for several years is now being pushed heavily by business leaders and DC legislators are likely agree to their demands soon.
Although utility companies enjoy large profits, they will always want to make more profits. The only way to make those massive profits even larger is to regularly increase electricity rates for homeowners and businesses. This time utility executives contend that consumer energy usage has improved as more are conserving energy, tougher regulations imposed on the fossil fuels to curb pollution and required updates to the the aging energy distribution infrastructure are cutting into profit growth so they have to make consumers pay more for their services.
MARYLAND HOMEOWNERS AREN’T GOING TO TAKE IT ANYMORE – SWITCHING TO SOLAR
Many Maryland homeowners are fed up with constant increases so are switching to low-cost solar energy in huge numbers to beat future rate hikes. Solar is catching on in a big way across the USA. Currently, a solar system is installed in America every 2.5 minutes according to GTM research. Homeowners like the fact that having a solar system installed on their rooftop or property is like having a personal power station that allows them to run their home on pollution-free energy that comes from sunshine.
There is a catch however. The federal and state incentives that have helped fuel the growth of solar probably won’t be around forever due to rising pressure from the fossil fuel industry on congress and elections. In fact there is a war going on between the solar industry and utilities in some states where the solar industry should be booming. Since most of the energy utilities distribute comes from coal, gas and oil, those industries have been working with utility companies in those states to get laws passed that force homeowners to pay higher rates and additional taxes if they have solar panels installed. Fortunately Maryland currently has a pro-renewable energy congress and has not had to fight this battle yet, but this may not last forever.
As solar reaches the inevitable point of mass adoptions many of the tax breaks and rebates will no longer be available – although the powerful and mature fossil fuel industry will continue to get taxpayer dollars into perpetuity because subsidies for fossil fuels are permanent. Unfortunately, they are not permanent for renewable energy yet.
Making a decision right now to have a “personal power station” installed on your roof or property for little or nothing down can make a lot of sense for you and your community tomorrow. Today Maryland homeowners can get a solar system installed and pay nothing for the equipment and installation and lock in an electricity rate that is lower than utility status quo. Homeowners who choose to own their solar panel system can finance it and actually eliminate their electricity bills altogether while they earn profits from the energy their system produces. The return on investment for ownership of a solar system is typically 125% in 5-7 years. By year 20 a solar system brings a 500% return on investment.
So if you are sick of sending bigger checks every year to your utility company and your home is solar eligible, making the switch to solar is a great way for you to stop rate hikes permanently. Unfortunately not every home is eligible for solar.
To find out if your home qualifies fill out the form on this page to schedule a free solar evaluation.
By Sharon Derby and Laureen Peck