- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Pepco is killing its Kilowatchers programs, which saved both electricity and money for consumers, as rates increase for the first time in seven years.

The electric company will suspend the programs indefinitely at the end of the month, coinciding with a 16 percent increase in electric-supply rates starting July 1.

The programs, called the Kilowatchers Club and the Kilowatchers Plus Club, were created in 1986 and have 140,000 members in Maryland and 13,000 in the District. Their purpose is to conserve electricity by switching off participants’ air conditioners, heat pumps and water heaters during electricity shortages via a radio-controlled switch on each appliance.

Officials at Potomac Electric Power Co. says they are suspending the program because there is little chance of energy shortages this summer.

“We only activated it when there was an expected supply shortage,” spokesman Robert Dobkin said. “There is plenty of supply expected to be available this summer to meet customer demand and thus there is no need to use Kilowatchers to help save energy.”

Last summer, which was fairly mild, Pepco doled out $1.6 million in credits to consumers, even though it never activated the appliance shut-offs.

The Kilowatchers programs will continue through the summer in the District because of regulatory agreements. Price caps on D.C. electricity will not be removed until Jan. 31; Kilowatchers is not expected to continue in the District next summer.

Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. officials say they have no plans to discontinue its energy-conservation program this summer, although it was not implemented last year.

Dominion Resources, Inc., which supplies Virginia with electricity, was unavailable for comment.

The North American Electric Reliability Council, which is in charge of the reliability of the North American electric system, forecasts no shortages for the Mid-Atlantic area this summer because the region can generate more electricity now.

Both Pepco and the Edison Electric Institute, a trade organization for investor-owned electric power companies, say deregulation of the electricity industry in summer 2000 is the reason more power is being produced.

“Retail deregulation can bring in additional supply. In a situation when retail competition begins, different suppliers might go into those markets to supply customers,” Jim Owen, spokesman for the Edison Electric Institute said.

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