The Maryland Public Service Commission (PSC) approved Southern Maryland Electric Cooperatives (SMECO) request to postpone until July 1, 2006, the per foot line extension charge for service installations over 220 feet. SMECO asked for this postponement to help ease the transition to the new line extension charges. Line extension charges apply to the line on the customers property and are measured from SMECOs equipment to the nearest corner of the house. Starting July 1, single-family home line extensions over 220 feet will be charged $11.49 per foot for the entire length of the line. Beyond 220 feet, SMECO must use a markedly larger and heavier underground cable to maintain voltage requirements at these longer distances. The price of the cable is significantly more expensive, and it is also more costly to install.
Until July 1, the base rate of $1,342 applies to all single-family home service installations; however, additional footage will be charged at $11.49 per foot if, for example, the customers plans call for the line to go to the back of the house or around a septic system. Extensions for townhomes and multi-family structures will continue to be charged at the new rate as follows: individual meter bases--$1,090 per unit; dual-ganged meter bases--$727 per unit; and multiple-ganged meter bases containing three or more meters $382 per meter. Discounts for joint trenching with other utilities are no longer provided.
The cost for installing a line extension is usually paid by the builder when the new service is installed. Line extensions exceeding 220 feet account for less than 10 percent of SMECOs new service installations per year, but require more costly cable; more than 90 percent of line extensions fall within 220 feet. In 2005, the average line extension for single-family homes was 117 feet.
SMECO had not changed its rates for line extensions in 11 years. The revised rates reflect industry standards and ensure the Co-ops costs are charged to the customers who receive the service rather than spreading these cost among all Co-op customers. As with electric rates, SMECO does not mark-up, and makes no profit from, line extension charges. These charges will be reviewed more frequently in the future and will increase as installation costs increase.
Applicants for underground service must furnish the necessary information, such as site plans and building permits, and other required paperwork to SMECO prior to work being performed. Customers are encouraged to contact their local SMECO office as early in the planning phase of new construction in order to make the new connection process as smooth as possible. Customers may also call 888-440-3311, extensions 4430 or 4483.