Duquesne Light offers rate plan for review

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Duquesne Light's large customers may experience sticker shock under a rate plan up for review today by the state Public Utility Commission.

The rate plan would require large industrial and commercial customers who buy from Duquesne Light to pay as much as 7.44 cents per kilowatt hour during peak daytime hours. Off-peak rates would be as high as 5.07 cents per kilowatt hour.

Under the same rate plan, residential customers will pay 6.24 cents per hour, effective Jan. 1. Rates now run about $5.83 per hour.

The industrial rates are based on a fixed-price rate plan Duquesne Light is offering. Industrial customers can also purchase from Duquesne at more volatile hourly rates or negotiate fixed-price contracts with alternative suppliers.

The options are a major step forward in the state's effort to deregulate electric utilities. Duquesne Light and some large industrial customers argue the plan is moving forward too fast.

Duquesne spokesman John Laudenslager said the utility currently serves about 860 large industrial customers. About 500 buy their electricity from other suppliers and pay Duquesne transmission and distribution charges. The new rates will force the other 360 large customers to evaluate staying with Duquesne or switching suppliers.

Laudenslager cautioned that those customers' monthly bills will be determined by more than the per-kilowatt hour rates. Other factors include how much electricity they use, what time of day they use it, and how consistent their demand is.

Some customers who consistently use the same amount of electricity no matter what the time of day could end up paying rates comparable to what residential customers pay, he said.

Len Boselovic can be reached at lboselovic@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1941.


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