The state's Office of Consumer Advocate has put the brakes on a 16.5 percent distribution rate increase proposed by PPL Electric Utilities, saying it plans to investigate whether the company really needs the money.
Under a March 30 filing with the state's Public Utilities Commission, the company would gain $104 million per year in operating revenues. That translates to an increase of about $7 per month for the average residential customer using 1,000 KWH, said Consumer Advocate Sonny Popowsky.
"We're still investigating to determine what we think is an appropriate increase," Popowsky said Monday. "They're asking for a profit of 11.25 percent and, you know, that seems high to us."
He said his office typically advocates for about 9 percent.
"They are permitted to earn a profit. The question is how much of a profit."
Popowsky said his office has filed a formal complaint and plans to testify in the PUC hearings which it requests be held to air the increase. He requested the PUC suspend the company's proposal so it can investigate.
PUC spokeswoman Jennifer Kocher said the Commission has until the end of May to act on the company's request, and it's likely to suspend the request and call for an investigation. There have been numerous other complaints filed against PPL regarding the increase, she said.
The distribution rate covers only the cost of delivering electricity, such as the infrastructure required to carry it to homes, and excludes the cost of generating electricity.
PPL has about 8,000 electricity customers in York County.
The company's spokesman, Jim Nulton, didn't immediately return calls for comment.